Californians talk about water conservation. But Aera Energy has actually done something about it
Aera Energy’s Ventura operation is saving 3,000 gallons of fresh water every day, thanks to a joint effort with the city’s water department.
It took more than two years of approval seeking, but Aera now has permission to transport and use recycled water for dust suppression on its Ventura, Calif., property.
“We have already been able to reduce our fresh water usage by 30 percent,” said Kim Drews, an Aera process analyst in Ventura. “We’re projecting even more savings going forward.”
For years, Aera used fresh water from the city’s water agency, Ventura Water, to control road dust in compliance with local and state air-quality regulations. But with California’s prolonged drought and Gov. Jerry Brown’s call to prepare for water shortages, Aera sought more ways to conserve.
In early 2014, Aera asked Ventura Water if it could use recycled water for dust suppression. Recycled water is what the city captures from community use and then treats to recycled specifications. Only parks and golf courses had been allowed to use the treated water. The rest of the city’s recycled water was discharged into the ocean.
Modifying the permit
Ventura Water liked Aera’s idea. But the existing state permit didn’t allow large industrial users to transport recycled water or apply 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 and the Regional Water Quality Control Board. Drews and Aera Environmental Advisor Louise Lampara worked with Ventura Water to provide necessary information.
In June 2016, Ventura Water received approval for the revised permit and officially launched its Recycled Water Mobile Reuse Program. That permit gives not just Aera the opportunity to conserve using the city’s recycled water but Ventura residents too, who can use the non-potable water for landscape irrigation.
“We would not have made the changes to the permit without having Aera on board,” said Shana Epstein, Ventura Water’s general manager. “Even before mandatory water rationing, we were discussing this project. It’s an important partnership.”
4,000 gallons a day
Now Aera fills a vacuum truck with up to 4,000 gallons of recycled water several times a day at the Ventura Harbor, where the city’s water recycling plant is located. It then delivers the recycled water to the lease, where waiting water trucks use it to control road dust.
“We had already significantly reduced water usage over the last 12 years,” added Michelle Newell, Aera public affairs specialist. “Now we have gone further by using recycled water and decreasing water use even more. It’s important to us to partner with the community to find workable solutions to local issues.”
According to Ventura Water, Aera’s efforts have already saved enough fresh water for more than 333,333 toilet flushes or 27,777 baths.