This year we began a series highlighting a sampling of our dedicated staff who work hard to keep things flowing in our community. The paramount goal of Ventura Water is to provide a safe and reliable water and wastewater system. In January we focused on the acquisition and management of our precious water resources. The next stop is water production, the business of successfully procuring an approximate daily average of twelve million gallons, to meet our customers’ need. To do this successfully the water production team maintains and operates nine water wells, 19 booster pump stations, 21 tank and reservoir facilities and performs maintenance on three water treatment plants. Amazingly, all of this is done by a staff of seven!
Eric Dettloff is the Water Production Supervisor. With 33 years of experience at Ventura Water, he is an extremely valuable component of the system. Eric relies on a staff consisting of a production lead, three electrical-mechanical maintenance workers, two utilities mechanics, and a fine-tuned control system. SCADA is a supervisory control and data acquisition system that, simply put, monitors and controls the multitude of water production components. SCADA then notifies the human components who respond whenever a need arises, like if a pump goes down or a valve fails. If it sounds like a complicated system already, the fact that Ventura encompasses 16 different pressure zones (geographic areas that are bounded by a lower and upper elevation) adds to the complexity of the production team’s task. Eric looks back at the 1994 Northridge Earthquake that caused a power loss to about half of the city, as one of the most challenging events of his career. Thankfully, today we have backup generators throughout the system so that when emergencies like the 2017 Thomas Fire occur, the water production team can better handle a loss of power. When asked what he loves most about his job, ironically, it’s those types of challenges that keep Eric excited to be on the job every day.
Flowing past water production, Ventura’s water supply must be carefully treated before being distributed to our customers. In March, we’ll focus on water treatment and maybe learn a little chemistry!