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Orange County’s Water Story: Regional Water Issues and the Import Supply. Stan Sprague General Manager Municipal Water District of Orange County Santiago Canyon College Managerial Issues Class. Chapter 1. Water supply development in Orange County. Once upon a time.

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orange county s water story regional water issues and the import supply

Orange County’s Water Story:Regional Water Issues and the Import Supply

Stan Sprague

General Manager

Municipal Water District of Orange County

Santiago Canyon College Managerial Issues Class

chapter 1
Chapter 1

Water supply development in Orange County

Once upon a time...

at the turn of the last century the turn of the last century,
  • Early settlements near surface water streams
  • Later development depended on groundwater
  • By turn of the century, settlers were outpacing nature’s ability to replenish
la turns to owens valley
…LA turns to Owens Valley
  • Development of L.A. Aqueduct
  • Access for others came at the price of annexation to Los Angeles
others turn to the colorado
Others turn to the Colorado...
  • Metropolitan Water District formed in 1928 to provide imported water to Southern California
    • Anaheim, Santa Ana, Fullerton were original members
    • Coastal MWD formed in 1941
    • MWD of Orange County formed in 1951
meanwhile orange county shores up rights on the santa ana river
Meanwhile, Orange County shores up rights on the Santa Ana River
  • Orange County Water District (OCWD) formed in 1933 to file lawsuit to litigate rights vs. upstream diverters
  • Availability of import water leads to agency taking preeminent role in groundwater management
eventually we all look north
Eventually, we all look north
  • SWP authorized by voters in 1960
  • First water delivered in early ‘70s
  • Contractually agreed to 2 MAF/year to Southern California

Where Southern CaliforniaGets its Water Today

Transfers & Storage

Local Supplies

LA Aqueduct

Colorado River Aqueduct

SWP Entitlement

Local Supplies

Groundwater & Recycling



chapter two
Chapter Two

Who is the Municipal Water District of Orange County?

mwd of orange county is
MWD of Orange County is...
  • Wholesale water supplier for Orange County
  • Governed by 7-member elected board
  • 30 retail agencies
  • Among the largest of Metropolitan’s member agencies
  • Service area of 600 square miles
  • Service area population of 2 million
  • Four (4) directors appointed to Metropolitan board
mwd of orange county exists to
MWD of Orange Countyexists to...
  • Coordinate and plan local water management programs in Orange County
  • Secure a reliable supply of imported water
  • Represent local retail agencies that provide water directly to homes and businesses
mwd of orange county as planner
MWD of Orange Countyas Planner…
  • Initiated and Manages South Orange County Reliability Study
    • Will make recommendations for both system and supply reliability improvements
    • Implementation will be cooperative effort
  • Analyzes data and trends and coordinates projects and programs with retail providers throughout the county
mwd of orange county as advocate
MWD of Orange Countyas Advocate…
  • Represents water agencies and cities
  • Influences and helps develop policies
    • at Metropolitan
    • at local government level
    • at State & Federal levels
  • Works with other Orange County water providers
  • Helps to secure funding for local agency projects
mwd of orange county as service provider
MWD of Orange Countyas Service Provider…
  • Water-Use Efficiency Programs
  • School Education
  • Water Emergency Response Orange County (WEROC)
  • Water-related legislative tracking, analysis and advocacy
chapter three
Chapter Three

Traditional Imported

Sources Challenged

our county s supplies
Our County’s Supplies
  • Orange County depends on imported water for almost half of its total supply
    • 48% groundwater
    • 46% imported through Metropolitan from Colorado River Aqueduct and State Water Project (Northern California)
    • 4% recycled water
    • 2% local surface water
challenges for orange county s traditional imported water sources
Challenges for Orange County’s traditional imported water sources...
  • Questions about water rights and surplus availability
  • Increasing environmental regulations and restrictions
  • Water quality concerns, i.e. impacts of salinity and organic compounds require greater treatment levels, and hamper recycling and groundwater uses

Colorado River issues

  • Metropolitan has high priority entitlement to approximately 700,000 AF
  • Additional 500,000 AF annually comes from surpluses
  • Arizona & Nevada now taking full shares, other states wary, drought conditions continue to worsen
  • Interior Secretary declares no surplus water in 2003
immediate concerns
Immediate concerns …
  • California’s inability to agree to a plan to reduce its take of surplus water over 15 years
  • Immediate cutbacks on surplus supplies eliminated “soft landing” option
  • Southern California will now only receive an 800,000 AF allocation in 2003
long term concerns
Long-term concerns …
  • Over allocation
  • Growth in other basin states
  • Native American lawsuits
  • Mexico
  • Water quality concerns
    • Perchlorate
    • Moab tailings
    • Salinity
challenges to northern california water
Challenges to Northern California water




  • San Francisco Bay/ Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta
    • Hub of State’s water system
    • Degraded ecosystem
    • Poor water quality
    • Supply impacted by endangered species
    • Early 90s drought, regulatory actions create crisis


San Francisco

Los Angeles Aqueduct

Colorado River Aqueduct

Los Angeles

challenges to northern california water26
Challenges to Northern California water
  • Struggle is to maintain what we have
  • Historical annual supplies to exporters from the Bay-Delta have been cut by 25% due to federal actions
  • Future regulatory actions threaten to cut supplies by another 25%
  • This year, State can only promise 45% (approximately 900,000 AF)
calfed bay delta program
CALFED Bay-Delta Program
  • CALFED Bay-Delta Program to the rescue
    • Joint state-federal consortium formed in 1994
    • California Bay-Delta Authority created in January 2003
      • Collaborative, non-regulatory process to fix problems in the Delta
      • Implementation of Record of Decision
      • Reduce conflict among stakeholders

Chinook Salmon

1989 - Winter-Run Threatened

1994 - Winter-Run Endangered

1999 - Spring-Run Threatened


1998 - Threatened

Sacramento Splittail

1999 - Threatened

Green Sturgeon

2001 - Petitioned for listing

Endangered Species Act

Protected Species in the Delta

Delta Smelt

1993 - Threatened


CALFED’s Ecosystem Accomplishments

  • Status:
  • 382 new projects
  • $398 million
  • 100,000 acres new wetlands
  • 17 new fish screens
  • 10 diversion dams removed

Delta Smelt

Nearing Recovery!

Environmental Gains Fishery Recovery – It’s Working!

Delta Smelt Fall Midwater Trawl Index


New fish ladder

Dam removed

Environmental Gains Fishery Recovery – It’s Working!


Spring-run Chinook Salmon -- Butte Creek


3 new fish screens & ladders

3 dams removed

# of Fish









Winter Run Chinook Salmon Adult Female Spawner Escapement

Winter-Run Chinook Salmon

Current take limit is 15 times higher than initially

Environmental Gains Fishery Recovery – It’s Working!

what calfed could mean to orange county s future
What CALFED could mean toOrange County’s future
  • Hope for some long-term regional relief
    • Improved water quality
    • More certainty = Better local resource managementand planning
  • Expansion of local projects
    • CALFED won’t necessarily result in more water
    • Limited imported supplies means local agency projects will become increasingly critical
chapter four
Chapter Four

The Local Story

where does this leave us
Where does this leave us?
  • Current total demand on Metropolitan is 2.0 MAF per year
  • Expected to marginally increase over next 10 years
  • Supply reliability to So. Cal. projected to be fairly stable over next 10 years (if no surprises)
local reliability issues emerge
Local reliability issues emerge
  • South County - 500,000 residents - depend on two major pipelines and single treatment plant for 90% of their water service
  • One of two main MWD pipelines feeding South County damaged in December 1999
  • OCWD proposes lowering pumping percentage to deal with overdraft of groundwater basin
  • Reliability of the water supply and delivery network is a top priority for all
orange county s population growth north and south
Orange County’s Population GrowthNorth and South


Population (millions)

1990: 1.89

2000: 2.18

2010: 2.30

2020: 2.36





Santa Ana

Population (millions)

1990: 0.51

2000: 0.68

2010: 0.79

2020: 0.87

20-Year Growth:

0.18 (8%)

Rancho Santa Margarita


Huntington Beach


20-Year Growth

0.37 million (13%)

Newport Beach

20-Year Growth:

0.19 (28%)

Laguna Niguel

San Clemente


Orange County’s Water ConsumptionNorth and South


Water Use (acre-feet)

2002: 549,000

2025: 634,000

Additional Demand: 85,000 (15%)




Santa Ana

Rancho Santa Margarita


Huntington Beach


Water Use (acre-feet)

2002: 134,000

2025: 180,000

Additional Demand:

46,000 (34%)

Newport Beach


Additional Demand

131,000 (19%)

Laguna Niguel

San Clemente

where will additional supplies come from
Where will additional supplies come from?
  • Santa Ana River/Groundwater Basin
  • Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS)
  • Metropolitan Import / Water Transfers
  • Water Use Efficiency
  • Water Recycling
  • Colored water treatment (MCWD, IRWD)
  • Other local supplies
  • Ocean desalination
orange county reliability study
Orange County Reliability Study
  • Started looking at system & supply reliability
    • Focus on South Orange County
      • How to meet demands with major facility/system outages
      • Evaluate alternative supply options, including ocean desalination
  • Second Phase to be completed July 2003
    • Highlights projects/programs for system and supply reliability
      • Ocean Desalination
      • Central Pool Augmentation
      • Regional Storage
      • Water Use Efficiency
      • Expanded interconnections
where are we headed
Where are we headed?
  • Water Reclamation:
    • Dual plumbing systems (IRWD)
      • Expanding usage from agricultural to urban
        • Irrigation of medians, open space, etc.
    • Brackish water desalination
      • Upstream Santa Ana River Watershed
      • Irvine Ranch Water District
      • City of Tustin
      • San Juan Basin
      • South Coast Water District
what have we been doing
What have we been doing?
  • Water Use Efficiency:
    • $6-7 million spent on WUE programs annually
    • Collaborative partnerships between:
      • MWDOC, OCWD, OCSD, MWD & Local retail agencies
      • U.S. Bureau of Reclamation & EPA
      • County of Orange
      • State of California
what have we been doing44
What have we been doing?
  • Water Use Efficiency:
    • 300,000 ULFT toilets have been installed (10,000 AF/year savings)
    • 270,000 showerheads have been installed (1,500 AF/year savings)
    • 3,250 clothes washers have been installed (43 AF/year savings)
    • Computer controlled irrigation system retrofits (8,500 AF/year savings)
    • Weather Based Controllers (Estimated 37-57 GPD savings)
      • 5,000 controllers will be installed beginning in summer 2003
      • Funding through Proposition 13, Metropolitan and local agencies
    • Overall WUE savings = 10-15%
  • *Savings based on lifespan of fixtures/controllers
what have we been doing45
What have we been doing?
  • Water Use Efficiency:
    • Industrial Water Use
      • MWD overseeing rebate/retrofit programs ($500,000/year)
      • Studies needed to determine how to recapture industrial processed water for reuse (cooling towers, recycling systems in die plants, etc.)
    • Landscape Performance Certification Program
      • Develop landscape irrigation budgets for more than 12,000 landscape meters
      • Technical workshops offered
      • Annual water savings of 12,000–24,000 AF ($5.4–$10.8 million)
ocean desalination in orange county
Ocean Desalinationin Orange County
  • Pre-development work for Ocean Desalination Plant in Dana Point
    • Submitted to Metropolitan on June 28, 2002
  • Poseidon Ocean Desalination Plant in Huntington Beach - 50 MGD
    • EIR is being completed by HB
    • MWDOC is assisting two of its agencies, Santa Margarita WD and Southern California WC with implementation of necessary agreements to access water
coming full circle
Coming full circle
  • Struggle to maintain current imported supply means we must make the most of what we have
  • Local options:
    • Water Recycling
    • Water Transfers
    • Conjunctive Use
    • Water Conservation
    • Desalination
  • Local delivery network must be reliable

Stan Sprague(714) 963-3058