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Who We Are, Featured May 13, 2021

Helping Ventura through a dry spell

Aera-Ventura reduces water usage by 54 percent in one of Ventura County’s driest years on record

Lake Casitas, the main fresh water source for the Ojai Valley and parts of Ventura, is currently only 38 percent full.

Lake Casitas, the main fresh water source for the Ojai Valley and parts of Ventura, is currently only 38 percent full.
(From Getty Images)

It’s been another dry year following what has already been a period of several dry years in Ventura County.

Lake Casitas is the main fresh water source for the Ojai Valley and some Ventura residents, farms and businesses. Water levels at the lake currently sit dangerously low–only 38 percent full.

Ventura County as a whole is also facing a fairly severe drought after recording one of its worst rainy seasons on record. Rainfall in some spots measured just three inches, compared with the average 13 to 20 inches that much of the region sees this time of year, according to a recent article in the Ventura County Star.

“Here in the city of Ventura, 100 percent of our water comes from local sources,” said Stephen Glenn, environmental services specialist with Ventura Water. “That’s why it’s so important for all of us to share the responsibility of appropriately using and preserving this resource. Water conservation remains a top priority for the city to ensure that local water supplies remain resilient through drought periods, emergencies and potential water supply project delays. That’s in addition to any regulatory, operational and legal constraints that may arise along the way.”

Being creative about water savings

Knowing the importance of water conservation, Aera-Ventura has spent the last few years researching and investing in ways to reduce its fresh-water usage in every way possible. Its hard work is paying off.

Since June 2017, Aera-Ventura has reduced its fresh-water consumption by 54 percent through the implementation of three major projects led by Chris Majusiak, a project manager at the Ventura field, and Mike Behrendt, a construction specialist.

  Mike Behrendt, a construction specialist at Aera-Ventura, shows how newly installed valves are used to conserve water during the filtration process.


Mike Behrendt, a construction specialist at Aera-Ventura, shows how newly installed valves are used to conserve water during the filtration process.

“It’s very important to us to be smart about each and every gallon of water we use,” said Majusiak, who oversees construction and maintenance projects for the field. “We’ve been specifically focusing on projects that reduce our water consumption for a number of years in preparation for the dry years because it is such an important resource.”

Aera-Ventura’s first major water project was to improve the system it used for cooling oil and gas pump bearings. Before, fresh water used to cool the equipment was discarded after one use because it became too warm to be used again. Majusiak and Behrendt’s solution was to install a closed-loop fan cooled system that instead used lube oil to continuously cool the water that is used. Now, instead of discarding the water after one pass through the exchanger, the water can be cooled to be recirculated through the system over and over again.

Next, the team looked at the way they use water to clean the seals on pumps that move water through a filtration system during oil production. Previously, water was continuously pushed through to flush seals even when the pumps weren’t running. But after Behrendt installed several valves that sense when a pump is running, water is now only used when it’s needed.  

These projects, coupled with the paving of frequently traveled roads inside Aera-Ventura which eliminated the need to apply fresh water on many roads for dust control, have yielded a significant water savings.

“It just made sense to look at this issue a little differently and try to find ways to improve a system that worked, but really could work better and smarter,” said Behrendt. “Ultimately these projects, plus a few others we have coming online soon, will save thousands of gallons of water per day.”

Majusiak says they will keep looking to find ways to save water, not just because the county desperately needs it right now, but because it’s the right thing to do.

“We’re very conscientious of the water shortage and the impact it has to our city and county. We live here too so these dry conditions affect us personally. But there’s more work to be done and we’ll keep working to find projects to help us continue to reduce our water consumption,” Majusiak said.

For water updates and information on reducing water consumption in Ventura, visit www.venturawater.net.

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