Water expert Jennifer Lancaster explains ‘weather whiplash’ phenomena –plus a recording of the presentation.

Published by Anne Russell on

Jennifer Lancaster described how her agency is building resiliency against climate change.

On June 28, Jennifer Lancaster, MS, appeared as COSF’s second guest in the 2023 Speaker Series as part of our special “Sustainability” theme.

In “Water: Where it comes from, how we use it, where it goes—and why it matters” Lancaster, who is the principal resource specialist at the Calleguas Municipal Water District, discussed the challenges to water resources in the Conejo Valley. Calleguas, which is a water wholesaler, supplies 75 percent  of Ventura County’s residents through one of 19 local retailers such as California American Water, City of Thousand Oaks and California Water Service.

She first addressed the origins of our water, noting that nearly all of the drinking water delivered to the Conejo Valley makes a 470-mile trip from Northern California, courtesy of the State Water Project in cooperation with the Metropolitan Water District. While the Thousand Oaks area is entirely dependent on this imported water, some of Calleguas’ service area nearer the coast does have ground water.

She described the two-year period starting in 2020 to the first quarter of 2022 as “a very dire situation,” and noted the extreme drought was “unprecedented” in California’s recorded history. In fact, the first three months of 2022 were the driest ever.

And while this year’s snowpack is at 237 percent of normal and the State Water Project’s allocation to Metropolitan (and thus Calleguas) is at 100 percent of its entitlement, it’s important to remember that in 2021 and 2022 the Department of Water Resources cut the SWP allocation to only 5 percent—hence the term “weather whiplash.” With that in mind, Calleguas is linking systems with the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District and the City of Ventura to create greater regional resiliency in emergencies.

Lancaster emphasized that we need to change the way we think about—and utilize—water, no longer regarding it as an abundant commodity, but as a limited resource that needs to be carefully conserved as we enter a new hotter, drier era in the state. Since up to 70 percent of home water use is for yards, she urged homeowners to learn about and practice low-water landscaping. Calleguas has started a water awareness campaign called “The landscape is change.”

Click this image to view a recording of the presentation.

Jennifer Lancaster received her Bachelor of Science degree in biology from University of California, Riverside and her Master of Science in biology from California State University, Northridge. She began her career as a biological science technician for the National Park Service and has also taught at Moorpark and Pierce Colleges.


For information on low-water gardening: Garden Landscapes for Ventura County


For turf removal rebates


To sign up for a free class at Calleguas headquarters in Thousand Oaks on choosing landscape plants onJuly 15, 10:00 to noon:


For more resources on designing a climate-appropriate garden landscape



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