County Issue / Water Rationing :...
Scott Lee, Mayor of Fillmore
No, I don’t think all cities have to ration equally. Each city has unique needs and should be looked at on an individual basis. Fillmore is already consuming below the county average, including below Ventura’s average. During the last six months, we were consuming 4% less than last year. This reduction is strictly on a volunteer basis. The city has already in place requirements enacted approximately a year ago requiring low-flow faucets and low-flow toilets on all new construction. I think each community knows the best what it’s going to take to conserve water. We’re making a special effort to contact individually the big users in town. The biggest use of water in our city is the city itself. We’re retrofitting City Hall with low-flow toilets and concentrating on landscaping to cut our consumption by over 10%. The fruit packinghouses are big users. One is already close to doing a water recycling project and we’re seeing what the city can do to encourage that. Many of the cities have their own projects, therefore it is hard to mandate 10 cities to have exactly the same conservation laws.
James A. Hubert, Engineer and manager, Calleguas Municipal Water District
I think that all the cities should be in some kind of controlled program in view of the current water situation. But I don’t know how you can be equal in each one of them. You have a tremendous range in water rates if you’re talking about water penalties. You look throughout the state and you’ll see there are some areas where people are pumping at $75 an acre-foot and federal projects where people are buying water for $7 an acre-foot. You can’t say what’s equal or fair. People just should quit wasting water and treat it like the drought is going to go on. One of the problems I’ve seen is people just don’t believe that can happen. The person that turns the tap on is the one that’s responsible. I suppose if you look at Santa Barbara, the only way they got people to cut down is by imposing huge penalties. That gets their attention. But how could a bureaucracy like the county sit down and make the rules when they’re not the ones that have all these various water agencies? You just can’t make one size fit all.
Gina K. Manchester, General manager, Camrosa Water District
I think any public or private agency responsible for serving water to the public should send the public a consistent and firm message that they are requiring conservation. On that basis, all cities should indeed have a strict water restriction policy. However, you must understand that the same reasoning holds true for Ventura County that held true when the governor did not take the state water resource control board’s recommendation to ration every household in California to 300 gallons a day. He’s smarter than that and knows that is not a workable solution. So yes, we need to send a strong message. And no, it does not have to be the same rule for everybody. No, the system is not fair and if people are looking for fairness, they’re going to be disappointed because it ain’t fair! Ventura County is trying to provide a coordinated effort and consistent communication to the public about the drought. There is not one pat answer. It has to do with exploring every possible means of reclaiming, conserving and balancing new water development with environmental considerations.
John J. Johnson, General manager, Casitas Municipal Water District
Probably not, and the reason is that each city, whether they’re supplied by a water agency or provide the water themselves, has invested over the long term differently than the others. Each has done different things to try to deal with their own water supply system. What you have to do is deal with the situation that each city finds itself in. What is fair has more to do with the viewpoint of the local community. It depends upon what they’ve done in the past. For example, in Casitas, along with Ventura, we began our program a year and a half ago. We’ve gone through an extensive public information program. We’ve cut back usage so our supplies can be extended. You can make a smaller, earlier cut that will do more than a larger, later cut. Just because the others haven’t done that, should we do the same things they’re doing? That’s one of the many arguments to keep water decisions on a local basis rather than at the state or countywide level. I really think you’ve got to let the local folks figure it out.
John K. Flynn, Ventura County supervisor
I think conservation countywide is absolutely necessary and should be mandated. We need to plan for a worst-case situation. If this drought should continue for two more years, the only water we will have is the water we save today. Every city is different. That is understood. However, every city should have a mandated water conservation program. It will vary somewhat, but the similarity among the cities will be that each city has one. That is absolutely necessary if we are to get through this drought situation. The drought is serious, the most serious problem we’ve faced in a long time. That means city, business, industry, construction and agriculture users will all have to tighten up. If we get into a position where the health and welfare of the county residents, cities and the unincorporated areas are threatened, then the county may have the authority to require mandatory water rationing by the cities. However, I think a better approach is the one we are taking with the drought emergency committee. I think out of this committee we will see a drought plan emerge.