Wes Woods II | Ventura County Star

EPA Administrator Michael Regan toured Ventura’s water recycling facility Wednesday afternoon, collecting data under the proposed bipartisan infrastructure deal. 

“It’s important that we have an understanding of what we’re dealing with all across the country,” said Regan, who is on a national tour of similar facilities.

Environmental Protection Agency officials are determining how to best utilize resources that are discussed in the infrastructure deal, he said.

“We want to have a full accounting and understanding of what these communities do,” said Regan, the agency’s top official.

On Wednesday, Regan and U.S. Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Westlake Village, toured the Ventura Water Reclamation Facility at 1400 Spinnaker Drive. The facility, according to its website, treats 8 to 9 million gallons of wastewater per day.

Two water projects are currently in design: a $50 million state water interconnection pipeline and a $260 million VenturaWaterPure project to improve water quality.

Brownley said the proposed bipartisan infrastructure deal currently in the House “has a lot of money” for waste water and drinking water projects, which could include the Ventura facility. 

“It’s not enough. We need to continue to do more but it is a giant step in terms of what has been done in the last decades, I would say,” Brownley said.

Regan said Ventura County has experienced officials who know what needs to be done from an infrastructure, business, planning and efficiency standpoint.

“What I’ve seen today is a very competent workforce that we need to continue to invest in while we invest in infrastructure,” he said.

Before stopping in Ventura, Regan met with Gov. Gavin Newsom to discuss state and federal wildfire recovery efforts at Big Basin Redwoods State Park in Northern California.

Federal officials stopping in Ventura County is nothing new. In 2019, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry toured the contaminated Santa Susana Field Laboratory in Simi Valley.

On Wednesday, Mayor Sofia Rubalcava, Councilman Joe Schroeder and City Manager Alex McIntyre also joined Regan’s tour.

Rubalcava, who thanked Brownley for making the Regan appearance happen, said it was important that the EPA administrator see the water project and how it affects residents.

“The hope is they allocate some of that funding to these projects, which is so necessary for the continuous vitality of this region, of this city and, of course, the whole county,” Rubalcava said. 

This story originally appeared in Ventura County Star on August 19, 2021.