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Following extensive studies completed from 2009 to 2013, it was determined that the expansion of the tertiary treated water (recycled) distribution system (aka purple pipe) was not the best option for the City of Ventura. In Ventura, urban and agricultural irrigation is limited in demand with seasonal variability. Even if a purple pipe system was fully expanded throughout the City, the demand for irrigation-quality water would not offset, or equal, the amount of potable water (safe to drink) that could be added to the City’s water supply through potable water reuse.
Tertiary treated water (recycled), delivered in purple pipes, is limited in use and water quality. To utilize tertiary treated water, a dual system must be plumbed requiring a permit, backflow testing, inspection, and training. Due to the high Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) and chloride level in the water, tertiary treated water cannot be used in areas where hard water deposits would interfere or on crops with a low salt tolerance. In order for the City to expand its use of tertiary treated water, additional treatment would be required.
For these reasons, the City is pursuing VenturaWaterPure, a potable reuse project that will diversify Ventura’s water supply, secure a new locally owned water source, meet regulatory requirements, and improve water quality. The treatment of tertiary water to potable standards allows for the expansion of recycled water use to anything, including drinking water, and eliminates the need for a separate purple pipe system.
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The VenturaWaterPure project will provide a locally-owned, rain independent, and reliable water resource for the community. The project will connect to the existing treatment system and purify water historically discharged from the Ventura Water Reclamation Facility to the Santa Clara River Estuary (SCRE). Upon enhanced treatment at a new Advanced Water Purification Facility (AWPF), the highly purified water will benefit the City, after injection and extraction from a local groundwater basin, as a new supply source. This process is generally known as potable reuse and more specifically as Indirect Potable Reuse (IPR). VenturaWaterPure will help to achieve diversified supplies and meet future water needs.
The project includes a network of pipelines, a new AWPF, a groundwater injection/extraction system, an ocean outfall, and freshwater treatment wetlands. The main feature is the new AWPF, which will utilize a proven multi-stage treatment process to produce a reliable, high-quality, and local water resource.
Potable reuse technologies produce high-quality drinking water using a multi-step and multi-barrier advanced treatment process. Though technologies can vary, many systems use water purification that includes three processes: microfiltration, reverse osmosis, and ultraviolet light/advanced oxidation. Combined, these purification processes remove salts, bacteria, viruses and micro-constituents (like pharmaceuticals and personal care products) to produce water quality that is equal to, or better than, existing drinking water sources.
Many communities in California and across the nation are building safe and reliable recycled water solutions for potable reuse. An example of where these proven technologies are used locally includes: Orange County, West Basin Municipal Water District, and Los Angeles County. Other communities, like Ventura, are in the planning and implementation phases, including: San Diego, Santa Clara Valley, Monterey, Las Virgenes, Carpinteria, Pismo Beach, Los Angeles, and Oxnard.
The project is needed to provide water security and meet multiple requirements to ensure community safety, affordable water solutions, and long-term water supply and quality needs. Specific needs include:
Based on a decade of evaluation, study, piloting, and reports there has been only one option that achieves all project objectives and provides the most value to the community—this is the VenturaWaterPure solution. Of the many alternatives studied in the approved Ventura Water Supplies Environmental Impact Report, it is the only solution that meets the needs of significantly reducing treated wastewater discharge to the SCRE, improving water quality, and providing a rain-independent and locally-owned water resource.
The VenturaWaterPure solution must be implemented by 2025 to meet water supply needs and maintain compliance with regulatory and environmental requirements.
As noted above, the City is likely to have a water supply deficit in the future without the introduction of new supply sources. Therefore, this new drought-resistant supply is needed as soon as possible to ensure long-term water reliability.
The City is also subject to permits and a Federal Court decree regarding the discharge of its treated wastewater flows to the SCRE. Those binding rules require compliance by 2025. Not meeting the deadline could subject the City to fines and penalties.
The project construction costs of approximately $190-$206 million are consistent with Ventura Water’s capital improvement program estimates. The project will be funded through a combination of grants, loans, rates, and other cost sharing opportunities. Rate impact analyses are underway at this time.There is no identified solution that meets the water supply needs and achieves compliance and water quality needs at a better cost / benefit value than VenturaWaterPure.
This alternative would require the City of Ventura to convey its tertiary treated water (recycled) to the City of Oxnard’s advanced treatment plant and then purchase the water back for use by Ventura Water customers. It is legally uncertain whether the City of Oxnard could even sell the water back to the City of Ventura.
This alternative would require the construction of two pipelines and multiple pump stations. The City of Oxnard would need to expand its facility and these construction costs would be similar to those associated with the construction of VenturaWaterPure’s Advanced Water Treatment Facility.
Additionally, this alternative would potentially include large fees imposed by the City of Oxnard to both treat Ventura’s tertiary treated water and then repurchase it. The fees would be determined by the City of Oxnard and as a result, Ventura would lose control over the cost of its own drinking water source. The fees associated with this alternative would most likely exceed the operational costs of the proposed VenturaWaterPure Project.
What the VenturaWaterPure Project provides, that the City of Oxnard alternative does not, is a City of Ventura secured water asset. The City would be in control of the operations and maintenance budget and its impact to rates for the treated water.
Sending tertiary treated water (recycled) to United’s spreading grounds presents the same limitations that the City of Oxnard alternative does. The City of Ventura would be subject to the costs imposed by United. The City would not have exclusive control of its water supply, and the water would be available to all users in United’s service area which could lead to challenges with beneficial use costs, water rights, and allocations. In addition, the tertiary treated water would require additional treatment to reduce the dissolved solid and salt content before it could be spread. The City of Ventura would be responsible for this additional cost without the full return benefit of having control over the water supply.