California groundwater storage agreement to provide local and regional water supply benefits

Plans to help ensure the reliability of Southern California's water supplies were finalized as the Orange County Water District (OCWD), Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC) and Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (Metropolitan) signed a historic 25-year agreement to store nearly 20 billion gallons of water in Orange County's groundwater basin for use during dry years and emergencies.

Jun 26th, 2003

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., June 26, 2003 -- Plans to help ensure the reliability of Southern California's water supplies were finalized as the Orange County Water District (OCWD), Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC) and Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (Metropolitan) signed a historic 25-year agreement to store nearly 20 billion gallons of water in Orange County's groundwater basin for use during dry years and emergencies.

The agreement also provides for additional protection from seawater intrusion and improved groundwater quality.

The agreement, which was signed during a joint meeting of the OCWD and MWDOC boards of directors, provides for the management and stewardship of the county's water resources and enhances water reliability and quality for Southern California.

"This partnership will help stretch available supplies for 18 million Southern Californians, while helping to assure Orange County will have a reliable, high-quality water supply for recharging the groundwater basin, which serves 2.3 million people in northern and central Orange County," said Metropolitan Chairman Phillip J. Pace.

Under the program, Metropolitan, in cooperation with MWDOC and OCWD, will store more than 60,000 acre-feet of imported water in Orange County's groundwater basin during wet periods. During dry spells, droughts or emergencies, up to 20,000 acre-feet per year -- enough for more than 40,000 families -- will be withdrawn for use. (An acre-foot is nearly 326,000 gallons of water, about what two typical Southern California families use in and around their home in a year).

Eight groundwater extraction wells will be provided to city and local water district participants to ensure that the stored water can be pumped in addition to the existing pumping demand. The operating cities and water districts will be able to use Metropolitan's new wells as backups for their existing systems and ownership of these wells will transfer to them when the agreement expires in 25 years. Participating cities include Buena Park, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Orange, Santa Ana, Southern California Water Company, Westminster, and Yorba Linda Water District.

In addition to water storage, the agreement also outlines Metropolitan's role in funding seawater intrusion barrier improvements for OCWD and constructing a bypass pipeline around MWD's Diemer Filtration Plant in Yorba Linda to redirect lower-salinity supplies from the State Water Project directly into OCWD's groundwater spreading basins in Anaheim.

"Implementing this storage program will help our continual efforts to prevent seawater intrusion into the groundwater basin," said OCWD Board President Denis R. Bilodeau.
"Every groundwater basin in California should participate in conjunctive use programs to meet future water needs."

The $29.8 million groundwater project is being made possible by Metropolitan, which has dedicated to Orange County $15 million of the $45 million in Proposition 13 grant funding that was committed to it by the state for conjunctive use projects in Southern California.
Metropolitan's board of directors also allocated another $14.8 million to complete the remaining components of the project.

The signing of the three-agency agreement is the culmination of a two-year process in which MWDOC, the Metropolitan member agency and imported water wholesaler for two-thirds of Orange County, coordinated many of the planning and logistical elements between OCWD and Metropolitan.

MWDOC is also leading the planning and certification process for the storage and extraction of program water in addition to working with OCWD on addressing the future water needs of the entire county.

"This groundwater storage program is a major step forward for OCWD and MWDOC as the agencies begin working more closely together to address the county's overall water supply and very important infrastructure needs," said MWDOC Vice President, Larry D. Dick. "I would also pledge that our agencies will continue their collaboration with Metropolitan as it works to plan Southern California's water future."

The Orange County Water District (OCWD) manages and protects the huge groundwater basin underlying north and central Orange County. OCWD is a special district, separate from the County of Orange or any city government. The California Legislature created it in 1933 to oversee Orange County's groundwater basin.

The groundwater basin supplies more than half of the water needs for 2.3 million residents in the cities of Anaheim, Buena Park, Cypress, Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Irvine, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Newport Beach, Orange, Placentia, Santa Ana, Seal Beach, Stanton, Tustin, Villa Park, Westminster and Yorba Linda. To learn more about water, log on to www.ocwd.com.

The Municipal Water District of Orange County is a public planning and resource management agency that was formed in 1951 and today provides imported water to more than 2 million Orange County residents through 28 cities and water districts and two private water companies.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a cooperative of 26 cities and water agencies serving 18 million people in six counties. The district imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California to supplement local supplies, and helps its members to develop increased water conservation, recycling, storage, and other resource-management programs.

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