Inside Aera
Responsibility, Environment Dec 17, 2018

Aera-Ventura: Saving enough water for 6.8 million toilet flushes

Aera’s partnership with the City of Ventura puts millions of gallons of recycled water to good use

Ever since Aera began a water-conservation partnership with the City of Ventura in 2016, the benefits have been adding up.

Aera makes five trips a day to the Ventura Harbor to load and transport recycled water for use at its oilfield. Pictured here with one of the transport trucks are, from left: Aera’s Will Spear, manager of Ventura operations; Sturgeon contractors Tim Miller and Omar Dominguez, who help in the water deliveries; and Aera’s Kim Drews, process analyst in Ventura.

So far, more than 15 million gallons of water have been recycled and used in day-to-day operations at Aera’s Ventura oilfield. What’s more, Aera’s efforts in Ventura have saved enough water for more than 6.8 million toilet flushes or 137,000 baths.

The joint water-conservation effort actually began in early 2014, when Aera reached out to Ventura Water, the local agency that provides water to 113,000 residents of the oceanside city. Aera wanted to find a way to work with Ventura Water to use recycled, rather than fresh, water to control road dust at its oilfield location.

That was important to Aera for two reasons. First, local and state air-quality regulations mandate dust-suppression at oilfield sites. At the time, using fresh water was the only option since Ventura Water relies exclusively on local freshwater sources. Secondly, California was well into an intense, extended drought, and water conservation was a high priority both for Aera and Ventura Water.

“We looked at our fresh water usage in 2014 and were trying to find ways to save water because it was just the right thing to do,” said Kim Drews, an Aera process analyst in Ventura. “When we found out about the city’s recycled-water program, we looked into how we could use it to help us save even more.”

Pursuing an idea

Aera’s idea seemed possible. Ventura Water had already begun a smaller-scale effort to capture water from community use and then recycle and treat it at its plant at the Ventura Harbor. In turn, area parks and golf courses could use the recycled water for irrigation purposes.

But when it came to Aera’s use of the city’s recycled water, there was a problem. Ventura Water’s existing state permit didn’t allow large industrial users to transport recycled water or use it for dust control.

So, the city agency embarked on a two-year process to modify the permit. That involved working with the State Water Resources Control Board, the Regional Water Quality Control Board and Aera personnel.

In June 2016, Ventura Water received approval for the revised permit and officially launched its Recycled Water Mobile Reuse Program. The updated permit not only gives Aera the opportunity to conserve using the city’s recycled water, it also allows Ventura residents to use the non-potable water for landscape irrigation.

“It’s important that our community as a whole embrace water efficiency as a way of life.  We are grateful for Aera Energy’s partnership and collaborative spirit in finding new ways to save and preserve our local water resources for future generations, “said Kevin Brown, general manager of Ventura Water

Transporting some 25,000 gallons a day

Aera now makes five trips a day to the Ventura Harbor to load and transport recycled water at a cost of more than $10,000 a month. Since the program began, Aera has spent $300,000 to move the recycled water to its Ventura oilfield.

“We had done so much to reduce our fresh-water use over the years, but we wanted to do more,” said Michele Newell, Aera’s public affairs representative in Ventura. “While the cost to transport is significant, Aera will always look for innovative ways to partner with our community to solve problems and be a positive force in our neighborhood.”

The water-reclamation project builds on Aera’s ongoing conservation efforts in Ventura. Over the last 25 years, Aera has decreased its water use from nearby Lake Casitas by 87 percent.

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