(Updated September 15, 2015)
I read that the District’s Automatic Meter Reading/Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMR/AMI) vendor went bankrupt? Is that true and, if so, please explain?
Yes, it is true.
(Updated June 11, 2015)
Is it true the District has retained a security firm to patrol the service area for water restriction violations?
Yes. In light of the unprecedented drought, the State Water Resources Control Board has directed LVMWD to reduce usage by 36 percent as compared to the same months of 2013.
In response, the District has made significant efforts to have customers reduce usage. These include a mandatory reduction in potable water irrigation to no more than two days per week, restrictions on the hours when irrigation may occur, direct mail sent to each customer, a conservation advertising campaign in local newspapers, televised presentations to each city council in the service area, recorded telephone call to all customers, presentations to homeowner associations and community groups, rebate programs including the “Mow No Mow” lawn replacement effort, bill-stuffers and more. In addition, District personnel such as customer service and maintenance workers look for incidents of wasted water or restriction violations as they go about the District.
LVMWD’s enforcement efforts are targeted at gaining compliance with the state’s conservation mandates and the District’s regulations. The District’s first communication with a customer following an observed violation is a letter identifying the condition that needs to be corrected. There is no financial penalty assessed unless the problem is not corrected, or if it is repeated within a year.
Even with these efforts, LVMWD continues to receive numerous reports of violations from the public, many asking for stricter enforcement of the restrictions. In response, the District has retained the services of Dial Security, a licensed security firm, to augment the District’s efforts during days and hours where District staff may not be available.
Customers are assured that the security firm will be using marked vehicles staffed with uniformed personnel. They will only make reports to LVMWD of violations they observe; they will not be making contact with customers – we will follow-up seeking to help the customer get in compliance.
The current drought emergency calls for measures that would not normally be considered. If LVMWD fails to reach compliance, fines to the agency of $10,000 per day can be assessed by the State. These fines would ultimately have to be passed on to customers.
(Updated April 24, 2015)
How is the District handling new development in light of the drought?
Although the District is not a land-use planning agency, it has an important role in the process and takes that responsibility seriously. The modest development and redevelopment within the service area produces the most water-efficient homes and buildings in the District, supporting the Governor’s goal of reducing per capita water usage. Commercial and housing tract developments have incorporated the use of recycled water for irrigation where it is available. Customers who own undeveloped property within the District pay an annual charge for the privilege of connecting the water system at some point. Nevertheless, there is always increasing concern with development activity during times of drought or shortage. The District relies on its Urban Water Management Plan (UWMP) to ensure that supply and demand are balanced under multiple different water supply conditions: normal, single-dry, and multiple-dry years. The UWMP recognizes and accounts for a modest amount of development within the service area even during dry water years. However, it will be increasingly important for the District to continue its focus on water conservation.
With increasing statewide concern related to the drought, is my short shower just going to result in my neighbor’s lawn getting greener?
No. The District is calling on all of its customers to “get serious about water use” and respond to the Governor’s call for mandatory water use reductions. For the District’s service area, the State Water Resources Control Board is slated to approve a 36% reduction requirement. Next week, the District’s Board of Directors will be considering new restrictions related to outdoor water use, limiting watering to two days per week with specified limits on irrigation run times. Also, the Board will consider authorizing a budget for enforcement of the new restrictions. The District will do its best to seek voluntary compliance with water use restrictions, but enforcement will be necessary for those who do not heed the call. These measures should prevent your neighbor’s lawn from getting greener during a time when we need to stretch our water supplies to the maximum extent.
Why doesn’t the District “allocate water to customers” and encourage selling of unused allocation on the open market?
The premise of selling water to the highest bidder who wants to use more water is counter to the principles of encouraging efficient water and conservation. “Water budgets” are founded on these principles.
How will the proposed water budgets be determined and why won’t they be the same for everyone?
Proposed water budgets are based on each customer’s unique water needs to support efficient use in and around the home. The budgets consist of three components (as illustrated below): (1) a component for indoor water needs based on the number of people in the household, (2) a component for outdoor water needs based on the square footage of irrigated area and (3) an adjustment for special needs such as medical uses of water and for horses. The District will seek public input on the criteria for any such adjustments, along with other elements of the water budget-based rate structure, prior to consideration by the Board. The premise of the approach is to provide an efficiency target for customers and to discourage wasteful water use. The budgets recognize that the District’s customers and their properties have varied water needs under efficient conditions. A one-size-fits-all approach would not address that issue.
I read that the District does not contribute any of its own funds to the Mow-No-Mow Turf Removal Program? Is that true?
No, the funding for the District’s turf removal program comes from its ratepayers and is paid to participants by the District. The District’s water rates include the cost of funding its overall water conservation program, which consists of a variety of incentives, public outreach and educational activities. For every acre-foot of water purchased by the District from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD), its regional water wholesaler, a $41 water stewardship fee is included. MWD utilizes this funding for regional water conservation efforts and to reimburse its member agencies, including the District, for certain sponsored incentive programs. The District’s Mow-No-Mow Program is one of these sponsored programs, allowing the District to be reimbursed at a rate of $2.00 per square foot of turf removed. However, it is important to recognize that these funds originated from the District and its ratepayers in the first place.
The District also made a conscious decision to administer the program directly so that participants could take advantage of the knowledge of District staff, instead of hiring professionals to assist them.
Has the District considered increasing its financial incentive for the Mow-No-Mow Turf Removal Program like some other agencies in Southern California?
Yes, the District has considered increasing the current $2.00 per square foot incentive amount; however, the current amount remains effective to drive an outstanding level of participation in the program. The financial incentive is intended to partially offset a customer’s investment for the work such that it reaches a “tipping point” to drive action. At this time, the $2.00 per square foot amount is ample to drive action in the District’s service area. Since May 2014, participation in the program has increased twenty-seven-fold. Over twenty acres of landscaping have been transformed throughout the District. Also, the District must consider the cost-effectiveness of the program as compared to other incentive programs. At the current incentive level, turf removal is very expensive on a dollar-per-gallon saved basis, but the District supports the investment because it results in more sustainable landscaping for our semi-arid climate.
(Updated April 20, 2015)
My neighbor says he’s using more water now so he gets more water in case there’s a mandatory “across the board” cutback. Is his strategy a good one?
No. Wasteful water use is never a good idea because it is costly and harmful to the environment. Water use must be as efficient as possible. “Water budgets” that the District is developing will be based on efficient use of water, not historical use.
(Updated October 10, 2014)
Did the District receive a letter from the District Attorney’s Office regarding a potential Brown Act violation?
Yes, but the District Attorney’s letter dated August 13, 2014 was sent to the private business address of one Board Member and not shared with the entire Board of Directors, the District’s Legal Counsel or the General Manager, preventing a timely response. The District received a copy of the letter on October 7th from a local news source. The District and its Legal Counsel investigated the matter and concluded that no violation occurred based on a review of records for the Board meeting, including the video recording posted on the District’s website and approved minutes.
(Updated September 23, 2014)
I recently read that an engineering firm had identified a need for 8.5 million gallons of additional potable water storage and that the District proposed $60 million worth of capital improvement projects to meet that need in the coming years. Is this true?
No, this is not accurate. Kennedy/Jenks Consultants completed the District’s Potable Water Master Plan Update 2014 in June, which identified an 820,000-gallon potable water storage deficiency based on current conditions and a projected 6.25-million-gallon deficiency in 2035 at build-out. These figures can be found on Pages 6-9 and 6-10 of the Potable Water Master Plan Update 2014. At this time, the District’s Board of Directors has not approved any new potable water storage projects or committed any additional funds for new potable water storage beyond those already appropriated for the 5-Million-Gallon Water Storage Project under construction in Westlake Village.
The District’s Fiscal Year 2014-15 Infrastructure Investment Plan (IIP) identifies the need for $60.6 million of capital improvement projects over the next four fiscal years; however, this amount includes only one project to design a potable water storage tank for $410,000. The majority of proposed projects (76 in total) are to maintain, rehabilitate and/or upgrade District and JPA capital assets that serve the potable water, recycled water and sanitation systems, which are valued at approximately $175 million. Also, the IIP and $60.6 million figure include a project to extend the JPA’s recycled water system to the Woodland Hills Golf Couse at a cost of $12.35 million, which will be 100% reimbursed by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
What is the difference between a “proposed/planned” project and a “committed” one?
Infrastructure planning is one of the most important functions performed by a water/wastewater utility. The planning process is essential to ensure that the District can provide reliable and cost-effective water and wastewater services to its customers. The District normally identifies proposed or planned projects through its master planning process. These “proposed/planned projects” are intended to address current and/or expected future needs and require further analyses, study and approval.
Some of the proposed/planned projects may be included in the District or JPA Infrastructure Investment Plan (IIP), which consists of only those projects expected to be worked on in the next four to five fiscal years. However, inclusion of a project in the IIP does not result in it being a “committed” project. Committed projects are only those that are approved by the Board of Directors for inclusion in the District or JPA annual budget along with an appropriation of funding. In some cases, a project may be committed for design but not construction. Upon completion of design, the Board may or may not opt to proceed with construction of the project.
(Updated July 9, 2014)
How do LVMWD's Rates compare with the rates of other nearby agencies?
In a survey conducted July 1, 2014, LVMWD's rates compared very favorably.
The tier allowances (and pricing break points) for commercial/irrigation customers escalate based on meter size while those for residential customers do not. These customers appear to get a discount for higher water use. Why are they treated differently?
The escalating tier allowances or breakpoints for commercial and irrigation customers recognizes that these customers have different types of water demands, depending on the type of business or the size of irrigated area. For example, a commercial customer with a 3-inch meter is expected to have a much higher water usage, even when being very efficient, than a residential customer with a ¾” water meter. The rate structure is intended to discourage wasteful water use, not to discourage an efficient water use for a business that happens to be water use intensive like a restaurant or a hotel. However, all customers with larger meters pay an escalating bi-monthly fixed meter charge (or “readiness- to-serve” charge) that is proportional to their demand on the system.
I live in zone 1 of the District, at a low level terrain where there are no elevation pumping charges according to your rate schedule. Yet, zone 2 pumping charges appear on my water bill. Why is this so?
The elevation charge is determined by the highest zone the water is pumped to prior to reaching the customer. Due to our terrain, it is sometimes necessary to pump the water over hills or mountains to serve customers on the other side of those obstacles.
(Updated June 4, 2014)
I heard there was litigation trying to stop the 5-million-gallon tank project. Is that true?
Yes. A homeowner who lives adjacent to the site filed an action seeking a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and Preliminary Injunction to stop the construction activity. The case is centered on the project approval process pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act. At a May 5th hearing in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the TRO request was withdrawn by the plaintiff and a follow-up hearing was scheduled for June 4th for the court to consider the Preliminary Injunction to stop the project pending a trial. Construction work continues for the project, which is currently on-schedule, as the legal matter is resolved. Click here to read news releases related to the litigation filed and the subsequent withdrawal of the request for a TRO:
Has blasting been approved and commenced at the 5-million-gallon tank work site?
Yes. The Blasting Safety Plan was approved by the California Division of Safety of Dams on April 11th, followed by the District on April 15, 2014. See a copy of the Blasting Safety Report posted here:Blasting Safety Report - (PDF 110MB) Please be sure to wait for the complete file to download. Download time will vary depending on your computer's Internet speed.
Controlled blasting activities commenced on Monday, April 21st. Click here to see the blasting reports and seismograph readings posted.
On some days there will be two blasting events; on other days, there may be one or none.
Click here to see additional information.
(Updated March 20, 2014)
Did the 1986 City of Westlake Village blasting permit for Three Springs restrict blasting within 1,000 feet of the Las Virgenes Reservoir dams?
No. The 1986 blasting permit from the City of Westlake Village for the Three Spring development did not restrict blasting within 1,000 feet of the dams. Rather, based on recommendations from a series of experts including the Division of Safety of Dams (DSOD), the peak particle velocity (PPV) or intensity of the blasting was limited to 2 inches per second at the dams, the same PPV that is required at the dams for the tank construction. The peak particle velocity dictates the size of the blast based on distance; for a given distance, the larger the charge, the greater the PPV.In 1988, the site for the Westlake Filtration Plant was excavated by blasting with the PPV limited to 2 inches per second. In this case, the Filtration Plant building is located approximately 130 feet from the north abutment of the Saddle Dam and 100 feet from the west abutment of the Main Dam. Blasting took place much closer to the dams to prepare the site for construction of underground utilities. The dams were not damaged from this highly-controlled blasting. The majority of the blasting for the tank itself is 160 feet away from the abutment.
Did the intensity of the blasting double during design of the water tank?
No. During the design of the tank, the DSOD determined that a 2-inch per second PPV would be required, the same restriction that was required in 1988. The Bureau of Reclamation allows a PPV of 4 inches per second for similar work and the DSOD has allowed a PPV up to 5 inches per second for blasting near dams such as for the San Vicente Dam expansion in San Diego. Limiting the PPV to 2 inches per second at the tank site may result in vibrations at the nearest homes of 0.28 to 0.3 inches per second for less than two seconds, slightly higher than the 0.2 inches per second indicated in the Mitigated Negative Declaration, but well below 0.5 inches per second where cracking of plaster or drywall in a typical wood frame home can occur.
See: 2011 Blasting Report
How long will the blasting go on and what was the original estimate?
The 2009 Mitigated Negative Declaration estimated the blasting would take four weeks with blasts occurring twice a day. Based on the final design, DSOD requirements and the contractor's schedule, the blasting will take up to six weeks at the tank site, with blasts occurring twice a day.
Has the DSOD approved the blasting plan?
Not at this time (March 20, 2014) and no blasting will take place until the plan has been approved. The DSOD did specify various requirements that were to be included in the blasting plan; these same requirements were included in the construction contract for the project. There are also many other regulatory requirements addressed in the contract such as those from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for the safe handling of the blasting materials. The contractor has prepared a detailed blasting plan based on these requirements, for review and approval by the DSOD and District. This plan will also be reviewed by the City of Westlake Village. Many other DSOD requirements were included in the contract, such as the review and acceptance of the blasting plan and individual shot plans, DSOD access to all work at the site and contract documents, review and approval of construction materials and methods related to dam safety and review and approval of any changes.
Are the dams safe from the blasting?
Yes, in 1986 and in 2011 it was concluded in separate reports that blasting near the dams is safe. The 1986 report by Goffman & McCormick concluded that “… at 2 inches per second, the dam is capable of accommodating at least 75 times more vibratory ground motion displacement by virtue of specific design and construction details.” The 2011 report by AECOM concluded that “Considering the much less severe vibration effects of blasting than major earthquake shaking, a concern of reduced embankment stability associated with blasting is negligible.”
See: 2011 Blasting Report
(Updated March 14, 2014)
Does the District “fear conservation” as the ads in the March 6 and March 13, 2014 issues of the Acorn claim?
The simple answer is absolutely not.
The District has had an extensive conservation program, including financial incentives and educational resources for decades. Here are links to the Conservation and Education pages within our website.
Please call us at 818.251.2100 if you have further questions.
Is the District building the tank so that it can justify more staff?
No. The tank will not cause the staffing level to increase. In fact, staffing has been reduced from 125 full-time positions in FY 2004/05 to the current level of 117 employees by implementing measures to increase efficiency and consolidating duties.
Is blasting near the dam safe?
Yes. The blast design meets guidelines set by Department of Safety of Dams (DSOD) for blasting near dams. Vibration monitoring will be performed during blasting to confirm compliance with the blasting plan and regulations. DSOD is conducting inspections during the construction to ensure compliance with the approved plans and specifications.
(Updated February 27, 2014)
I have read that the District “does not have any substantive conservation programs of its own: just several small dollar, rarely used programs paid for by other agencies.” Is that true?
No, it is false. The District has continually been promoting conservation for more than a decade. It has conducted garden and landscape classes, generated publications for customer use including a native plant and landscape guide, disseminated conservation information through its website and customer newsletters, spoken to numerous community and homeowner groups, promoted conservation at community events and through the schools, and added historic water use information to each customer billing statement .
The District also participates in conservation programs that MWD offers at no additional cost to its member agencies. All of our customers are eligible to participate in MWD-administered programs available through http://www.socalwatersmart.com/ as well as District-administered programs such as “Mow No Mow”. In addition, the District offers free water audits, customized surveys of water use inside and outside the home, to all of its customers. Most of the conservation programs have had excellent participation by customers. For example, in the past five years, the District conducted over 1,000 free water audits. These audits have resulted in substantial water savings by assisting customers to identify and implement tailored measures to reduce their water usage.
MWD has recently listed new devices like soil moisture sensors, rain barrels and plumbing flow control valves that are now available through SoCal WaterSmart. While incentive programs have substantial benefits, it is up to each individual customer to adopt water-saving practices that are significant and sustainable. In the 2009 drought, we saw significant customer conservation in response to District requests; however, as seen throughout the state, that behavior was not completely maintained. Unfortunately, there is no single “silver bullet” for conservation.
Why not just provide each household $650 to install water-saving devices like moisture sensing sprinkler activators to reduce water use to the point where the tank won’t be needed as stated in a recent ad in a local newspaper?
The District offers a variety of incentive programs that recognize the different needs of its customers. MWD recently expanded its conservation program to include new water-saving devices for customers. One new item is a soil moisture sensor. Rebates of $80 for residential customers and $25 (each station) for commercial customers are offered through the http://www.socalwatersmart.com/ website. There is no available data to validate the one-third water savings claimed in the ad. Reliance on water savings using a single device is neither a prudent practice nor is it a sound basis for eliminating the construction of needed infrastructure, particularly storage in the water system.
A flyer distributed in the Three Springs community contains statements that are contrary to what we heard and/or read before about the tank. What are the facts?
- The construction duration for the tank is approximately 16 months NOT 3+ years.
- The tank will NOT cost each water customer $650. See Fact Checker information posted on February 21, 2014.
- On its busiest construction days, it is anticipated that there will be a maximum of 100 vehicles and 40 workers NOT thousands of construction vehicles and workers daily.
- LVMWD did NOT request the City to remove the speed humps on Three Springs Drive. The intent is for the speed humps to remain in place.
- Additional information on issues like the need for the tank, health and safety, and associated reports on the project can be accessed at 5-Mil Storage Tank – Project History
(Updated February 21, 2014)
There are claims that the Five Million Gallon Tank project costs are confusing. What are the real numbers?
Can conservation alone offset the need for the Five Million Gallon Tank?
Is it true that the tank construction will cost $650 per customer?
How does the District intend to comply with 20% x 2020 requirement by the State if it cannot rely on conservation alone?
What are budget-based rates?
Is this a “water rate increase” in disguise?
(Updated November 12, 2013)
What is driving the need for a water tank in Westlake Village?
A water storage deficit of approximately 3.9 million gallons currently exists to meet needs for: (a) daily usage, (b) emergencies, and (c) fire flow. There are also future demands and storage needs associated with projects proposed to be served by the western part of the water system like The Shoppes at Westlake Village (Target Corporation), Westlake Village Business Park and in-fill development. The proposed tank is a component of a larger program to improve the water distribution system for the entire District.
How does the District determine the amount of water storage required?
Title 22 of the California Code of Regulations requires water systems to determine their Maximum Day Demand (MDD), which the District uses to set minimum levels of daily usage and emergency storage Los Angeles County Fire Department Regulation #8 establishes minimum fire flow rates and durations, which are correlated to an equivalent amount of water storage.
Should untreated water from Las Virgenes Reservoir be utilized in the public water system?
No. Untreated water from Las Virgenes Reservoir does not meet Federal and State drinking water standards and can contain disease-causing microorganisms. If untreated water is pumped into the distribution system, a "Boil Water Order" would need to be issued to protect public health. Customers who do not immediately receive notification of the “Boil Water Order” or who do not heed the warning may consume the water and become ill.
What does it take to lift a "Boil Water Order"?
Recovery from a "Boil Water Order" requires draining, flushing, refilling, disinfection and microbial testing of the affected portions of the water system. The District must then demonstrate to the Department of Public Health (DPH) authorities that the water is safe to drink; only the DPH authorities can lift the “Boil Water Order”. While the recovery process takes place, drinking water service would not be available and food preparation establishments must remain closed. Customers would need to find an alternate drinking water source such as bottled water.
Why did Tapia Water Reclamation Facility release fully treated recycled water into Malibu Creek this summer?
The Tapia Water Reclamation Facility is operated under a permit issued by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board. The District is prohibited from discharging to Malibu Creek from April 15 to November 15 every year. However, when the creek flow drops below 2.5 cubic feet per second during this period, the District is required to release recycled water from Tapia to provide water pools (habitat) for the endangered steelhead trout.
Still have questions? Please e-mail LVMWD's General Manager
(Updated October 25, 2013)
Did the Board of Directors approve a 45% water rate increase over five years?
No. The Board of Directors approved a three-year increase of 24% to the average customer who uses 55 hundred cubic feet (hcf). There are no approved increases beyond 2015.
Water rates consist of 3 components:
Readiness to serve
Fixed cost for meter reading & maintenance, billing and service
Cost of actual water use per hundred cubic feet (hcf)
21% to 26.5%
Cost of pumping to higher elevation per hundred cubic feet (hcf)
16% to 19%
218 Notice (PDF 694 KB)
Will the cost of the proposed 5-million gallon tank result in a water rate increase?
No. The District’s capital improvement program through 2015, which includes the 5-million gallon tank project, will be funded from a reserve account that has been set aside for this purpose for many years. The Board favors a “pay-as-you-go” approach instead of borrowing money in financing its projects to reduce costs.
218 Notice (PDF 694 KB)
FY 2013/14 Budget (PDF 4.6 MB) – Adopted Financial Policies, Policy 4: Financing Alternatives starts on page 57 of the PDF or The District section, page B13.
Does the District have the lowest water rates in the region?
Yes. A comparison of the current water rates with neighboring agencies shows the District has the lowest rates. The City of Camarillo and Ventura County Waterworks District #1 have a lower rate in the low usage range only.
Rates Comparison PDF (Survey date: December 18, 2013)
Does the District have the lowest sewer service rate in the region?
No. A comparison of the current sewer rates with neighboring agencies shows the District has a higher rate due to its unique permit condition that prohibits discharge of fully treated recycled water to Malibu Creek for seven months every year, stringent treatment requirements and a smaller customer base to share in the treatment expense.
Rates Comparison (Survey date: December 18, 2013)
How does the District’s combined water and sewer service cost compare to the region?
Except for the City of Camarillo, the District has the lowest combined water and sewer service cost in the region based on a District-wide average water use of 55 hcf.
Rates Comparison (Survey date: December 18, 2013)
Are the District’s current water rates generating large surpluses?
No. Since Fiscal Year 2009/10, the District’s water rates have not been sufficient to cover its operating costs, resulting in a deficit each year. With the rate increases approved by the Board in December 2012, the District is expected to close the current fiscal year with a net operating revenue of approximately $88,000, a positive amount for the first time in five years.
FY 2013/14 Budget (PDF 4.6 MB) – Potable Water Operations Summary on page 66 of the PDF or Operations section, page C6.
Still have questions? Please e-mail LVMWD's General Manager