At its meeting on June 6th, the Ventura City Council approved a policy requiring developers to offset the water supply demands of their development projects.
According to Ventura’s 2015 Comprehensive Water Resources Report, the city’s water supplies are currently being used at or near full capacity. The city’s supplies come from three local sources—the Ventura River, Lake Casitas, and groundwater wells within the Mound, Oxnard Plain and Santa Paula Groundwater Basins—with each typically providing about one-third of the city’s supplies. But drought has caused a dramatic shift, so currently they are receiving 10% from the Ventura River, 30% from Lake Casitas, and 60% from groundwater sources. City staff are concerned that physical availability, operational constraints, and possible regulatory restrictions, water quality, and legal issues could impede their ability to meet growing demands. The new policy is designed to ensure that the existing supplies and water supply reliability are not adversely impacted by new or intensified development.
Developers are now required to provide a sufficient water supply for their projects or pay a one-time “Net Zero Fee” so that the city can develop the necessary supplies. The developers can receive credit toward the demand offset by demonstrating historical use or implementing extraordinary conservation measures.
The “Net Zero Fee” is based on the capital costs for a portfolio of water projects under a recommended water supply development strategy. It is currently set at $26,457 per acre-foot and will be adjusted annually for inflation by the Engineering News Record (“ENR”) Construction Index for Los Angeles. In addition, the fee will be reviewed whenever water rates are reviewed to ensure that no customer class bears a disproportionate share of the costs for new water supplies.
Written by Marta L. Weismann