Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Decision '92 : SPECIAL VOTERS' GUIDE TO STATE AND LOCAL ELECTIONS : LOCAL CONTESTS : Ventura Ballot Measure O

October 25, 1992

The advisory measure allows voters to state their preferred method to increase the city's water supply: by either building a seawater desalination plant or laying pipeline to import state water. Although the vote is non-binding, a majority of Ventura's City Council members have agreed to abide by the voters' wishes. Section A: Urges the city to build a desalination plant in western Ventura that can turn seawater into drinking water through reverse osmosis. The plant would produce 7,000 acre-feet of water a year, about enough for 14,000 households. The city estimates that it will cost $30.4 million a year over 30 years. The costs also include extra ground-water pumping wells needed to augment the limited supply of desalinated water and provide a backup source in case of plant failure.

Section B: Urges the city to build a pipeline to hook into the state water system that imports water from Northern California. The pipeline would bring up to 9,000 acre-feet of water allotted to Ventura, or enough for about 18,000 households a year. The city has paid $8.7 million since 1964 to reserve its rights to state water. The city estimates that it would cost $24.2 million per year over 30 years to build a pipeline connecting with the State Aqueduct at Castaic Lake in Los Angeles County. The cost estimate includes additional ground-water wells for backup during drought years when state water supplies are restricted. It also assumes that other Ventura County agencies will share in the construction costs and that the Castaic Lake Water Agency and the Metropolitan Water District will build the first 15 miles of the pipeline. No other agencies have committed themselves so far.

Arguments on Section A

Supporters say a desalination plant offers an independent source of water that is not at the mercy of a drought or state water politics. A desalination plant can be expanded in phases to meet the city's future needs, with no set limits on the amount of water it can produce. Its main drawback is its cost, an estimated $6 million a year more than importing state water. Much of that comes from the expense of the electricity it uses, which can escalate with fuel costs. Opponents say escalating costs could force the city to shutdown the plant and return to pumping the diminishing supply of ground water.

Arguments on Section B

Supporters say a connecting pipeline to the state water system is cheaper to build and operate than a desalination plant, provided that other water agencies help with the construction costs. Since it was build in 1964, the State Aqueduct has provided a reliable source of water to its customers. Supporters say it was only after a five-year drought that state officials were forced to cut water to 30% of promised deliveries in 1990-1991 and 45% of promised deliveries in 1991-1992. A pipeline has regional benefits, allowing other areas of the county to increase their own water supplies, provided they share the costs of construction. Ventura is entitled to state water, but the system has overcommitted the water that it can deliver by 55%. To increase its water capacity, the state plans new reservoirs, but the projects face many environmental hurdles before they can be built. Opponents say a pipeline will enrich farmers and spur growth through the mostly rural Santa Clara Valley.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|