Despite the deluge of rain that hit the county last week, the city of Ventura plans to forge ahead with a water rationing program.
Officials say the recent rain soaked into the ground, failing to provide the runoff needed to add water to Ventura's two primary sources, the Ventura River and Lake Casitas.
"The rain that we've had really soaked into the ground but hasn't added much to runoff, which is what we need," said Shelley Jones, Ventura city public works director.
The water conservation program, which is still under wraps, will include elements of rationing programs used by six California cities, Jones said.
However, it will follow most closely a stringent program in Goleta that forces residents who use excessive water to pay up to 10 times normal water rates, Jones said.
The program will be unveiled for review by the City Council either later this month or in early February.
Additional winter storms of the same magnitude could begin to produce runoff that would help restore levels in Lake Casitas and the Ventura Rivers, said Dick Barnett, engineering department manager for the Casitas Municipal Water District.
However, Ventura plans to play it safe no matter what the winter brings.
"Even if it rains, there will still be a program in Ventura that will cause people to reduce their water use," Jones said.
After a three-year statewide drought, 130 agencies statewide have imposed rationing programs that affect 10 million people.
"Ventura is not all alone out there," Jones said.