New Orange County water project ahead of panel's recommendations

Groundwater replenishment system supports recommendations of governor's drought planning panel.

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif.—(BUSINESS WIRE)—March 13, 2001—The Groundwater Replenishment (GWR) System, Orange County's proposed water purification project, supports the recommendations of the Governor's Drought Planning Panel for timely water reuse projects by providing �additional opportunities to reduce water demand in a relatively cost-efficient manner, with multiple benefits for efficiency, dry-year reliability and discharge water quality.�

The GWR System will take highly treated sewer water from the Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) and purify it to near-distilled quality water at a new advanced membrane-treatment facility at the current site of the Orange County Water District (OCWD) and OCSD facilities.

It is scheduled to produce more than 70,000 acre-feet per year of water by 2005, enough water for 150,000 families for one year. This amount can increase to more than 130,000 acre-feet per year by 2020.

�The Groundwater Replenishment System will help drought-proof Orange County and is being developed, in part, to safeguard Orange County from the effects of long-term water shortages,� said Irv Pickler, chairman of the GWR System joint cooperative committee.

�Although we have had several relatively wet years, California has a long history of droughts. While difficult to predict, experts say our next drought may be in the near future.

�The Groundwater Replenishment System also produces near-distilled quality water for one-half the energy required to move water here from Northern California,� he continued.

The Governor's Drought Planning Panel recommends that the state pursue timely, and if possible, accelerated cost-effective actions to recycle water.

The report goes on to say that water recycling will be needed during the first phase of the CALFED effort (ending in 2007) to repair the environment, improve water quality and increase quantity as a part of the restoration of the San Francisco Bay Delta. The report states that Californians are at risk with respect to critical water shortages if there is an extreme or long-term drought or future state population growth.

The Governor's panel also recommends that local water agencies, like the Orange County Water District, actively implement measures to improve their water-shortage preparedness. The GWR System is a joint-venture project of OCWD and OCSD.

In addition, the panel recommends creation of a statewide Critical Water Shortage Reduction Marketing Program (CWSRMP) that would provide water to areas suffering critical shortages. One of the considerations for receiving CWSRMP water would be how the areas with critical shortages have prepared for the next drought. The GWR System would be a major positive action for Orange County if it ever needs CWSRMP water during a severe and long-term drought.

Orange County Water District is a special agency that was created by the California State Legislature in 1933 to maintain and manage the groundwater basin under northern and central Orange County.

OCWD's groundwater basin supplies 75% of the water needs in Anaheim, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Cypress, 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.

Orange County Sanitation District is the largest wastewater treatment system west of the Mississippi River, serving 2.2 million residents in northern and central Orange County.

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