General Manager's Message

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” As a child, we get asked this question all the time and as we get older, we use this question to start a conversation with a child. Not many, if any, say “I want to be a water/wastewater operator when I grow up!”, but they should. A career in water is awesome and rewarding. We get to work outside, provide water for health and safety, protect the environment, and restore a critical resource to the community. And there is so much you can do; I started in this industry working in a water and wastewater lab, then performed food facility inspections for stormwater and grease compliance, moved on to cleaning and inspecting sewer lines, became an operator-in-training, and earned certification in water treatment, distribution, wastewater, and advanced treatment. This month we highlight one of our operators, Sol Clements, who has also worked in many areas of the wastewater industry and radiates her love of what she does for our city. 

At Ventura Water we love to share what we do and help to spark interest in our youth about water. We highlight not only how water is treated and how important conservation is, but also how this could be a career for them. Our team works with local schools and environmental groups to outreach and educate. We’re proud to report that during this past school year we hosted over 300 students from local public and private schools for tours of the wastewater treatment plant, (see photo above). If your group is interested in a tour, please email us at:

And if you, or someone you know may be interested in a career in water, see the current jobs listed at the bottom of this newsletter or visit the City website.  


Gina Dorrington

Operator Sol Clements sampling the VenturaWaterPure demonstration facility, July 2023

Ventura Water - In Focus

Flowing through our series about the components that make up Ventura Water, last month we turned to the wastewater systems. After the City’s wastewater is transported to the Ventura Water Reclamation Facility (VWRF) it must be carefully treated before being released back to the planet's water cycle. The VWRF is a tertiary, or three-step, wastewater treatment plant that operates 24/7, adhering to standards set by the California Regional Water Quality Control Board. Effluent (wastewater discharged into a river or the sea) must meet or exceed multiple parameters like pH, chlorine levels, bacterial and dissolved oxygen concentrations and ammonia and nitrate limits, to name a few. This month’s featured wastewater operations staff person, Sol Clements, likens operating VWRF to “a giant chemistry project.”

For anyone who’s taken a chemistry class, simply put, it’s about careful observation of processes for signs of change. Sol has worked at the wastewater plant for over five years, first volunteering as an operator-in-training, moving to the lab in 2019, and joining the Operations Team in 2020. Operators interface with SCADA, a sophisticated industrial control system that constantly monitors the plant’s workings. Sol uses her senses to make informed observations and then takes the assertive actions required to optimize plant operations.

As you can guess, a wastewater plant is a place with many smells, and Sol knows that changes in those smells can mean an adjustment needs to be made. She also relies on sight—to notice if the color of the foam created in the aeration basins is off or to look under a microscope at sludge to ensure that the bugs, (introduced to digest pollutants) are healthy. If a pump sounds different than usual it could mean bearings are starting to wear, or if it feels warmer than normal Sol will rule out possible causes. And much like a good scientist, when in doubt Sol gets a second or even a third opinion from someone on her team.

VWRF’s Operations Team has fourteen members who hold various certifications, each requiring many hundreds of hours of on-the-job experience and successful passing of exams. Sol is certified as a Lab Analyst l, a Wastewater Treatment Operator lll, and she is working toward her Advanced Water Treatment Operator lll certification. A Class A license is also required for each member of the Operations Team.

Asked what her favorite part of her job is, Sol says she loves serving her community and working with people who authentically care about the job they do. Asked about challenges faced on the job, Sol recalls last winter’s extreme storm runoff and how on a particular night she was called to the plant at 2:00 a.m. Along with the rest of the Operations Team, for the next week she worked to store and treat over 20 million gallons per day of incoming flow, when the typical average is 7.5 million gallons per day.

To keep the wastewater treatment plant running smoothly also requires constant, effective maintenance. Next month we will focus on Ventura Water’s Maintenance Team.


Flocculation is the process whereby a chemical or other substance is added to wastewater to trap or attract particulate matter into clusters or clumps called flocs. This makes it much easier to remove lighter solids during the wastewater treatment process. At Ventura Water we use the flocculant FeCl2. Surprisingly, FeCl2 doesn’t stand for fecal or going “Number 2”, but for ferrous chloride! Solids, removed with the help of flocculation, become biosolids which are shipped out and made into rich fertilizers for the agriculture industry. Biosolids contaminated by heavy metals, chemicals or hazardous waste can leach pollutants into the environment. To prevent this contamination, remember to always think before you flush and only flush the 3 p’s—pee, poo and (toilet) paper.


For more information, please visit our “think before you flush” webpage

July is Smart Irrigation Month

The Smart Irrigation initiative was created to promote the social, economic and environmental benefits of efficient irrigation technologies, products and services in landscape, turf and agricultural irrigation. We offer several ways to make your irrigation "smarter" and save our precious water resources. Check out all of our water saving programs here.

Employment Opportunities

View current employment opportunities with the City of Ventura here. 

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