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VC Star | Ventura County Star

Guest column: Innovating our way through a manufactured water crisis

By Bruce E. Dandy,


Reliable water supplies have long challenged those who call Ventura County home. From severe droughts that nearly obliterated early settlements more than a century ago to the extended dry periods of recent years, it is clear that new approaches to water management are needed to ensure sustainability.

For example, the district is currently cutting through bureaucratic red tape, delays and funding issues by partnering with the U.S. Navy on a project to minimize saltwater intrusion on the coast. The two organizations are developing a barrier to block the salt water and a treatment plant to remove salt from groundwater, a creative solution that will result in a “new” source of water that is enough to supply thousands of homes and acres of farmland.

Fortunately, United Water Conservation District (UWCD) provides the bold leadership needed to challenge the status quo and deliver the water that helps our communities thrive.

UWCD primarily protects groundwater resources utilized by more than 370,000 residents in Oxnard, Port Hueneme, Ventura, Santa Paula and Fillmore, as well as Naval Base Ventura County and several mutual water districts, farms and individual pumpers. The district also provides surface water for agricultural irrigation and treated drinking water to the cities of Oxnard and Port Hueneme.

The responsibility for maintaining a lasting supply for these areas extends well beyond local neighborhoods. Local, state and federal partnerships are necessary to maintain and grow local water storage. Whether it is here at home, in Sacramento or Washington, D.C., UWCD drives the conversation and provides a voice for Ventura County.

Relying on traditional methods is no longer enough to satisfy local water needs. Instead, out-of-the-box thinking allows UWCD to look beyond the ordinary and develop innovative solutions. A proven track record demonstrates the success of this approach.

The get-it-done attitude behind this type of advanced project has earned UWCD a reputation as a leader in California water. The organization leverages this role by collaborating on promising water sustainability projects across the region and beyond.

Expanding the ability to collect, store and transfer water across the state holds the potential to provide additional water for millions of households annually. UWCD advocates moving forward with infrastructure projects that utilize stormwater and improve sustainability.

The Freeman Diversion expansion project on the Santa Clara River will enhance the region’s groundwater resources by expanding UWCD’s capacity to capture an additional 9,000 acre-feet of stormwater annually. The stormwater will be used to recharge local aquifers, providing enough water to meet the needs of nearly 20,000 families in Ventura County.

The proposed Delta Conveyance Project, also known as the Delta Tunnel project, would move water from Northern California around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and directly into the State Water Project system. The project protects against future water supply losses from climate change, sea level rise and earthquakes.

Focusing on individual communities alone will not help overcome long-term water challenges. Water is too important for a zero-sum game with winners and losers. Water providers, local leaders and stakeholders must work together so all can benefit from a more reliable water future.

UWCD is proud of its water stewardship in Ventura County and will maximize its leadership position, fresh ideas and partnerships to further advance the sustainability of our local water supplies.

Bruce E. Dandy is the Board President of United Water Conservation District in Ventura County, a wholesale water agency and State Water Contractor in Ventura County.

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