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The Municipal Water District of Orange County strives to provide a variety of services that provide benefit to its stakeholders and constituents. Our efforts focus on sound planning and appropriate investments in water supply development, water use efficiency, public information, legislative advocacy, water education, and emergency preparedness.
Doheny Desalination Project
(a.k.a. South Orange Coastal Ocean Desalination Project (SOCOD))
Areas of south Orange County range between 80% and 100% reliance on imported water supplies from northern California and the Colorado River. These imported water supplies are limited, and as a result, water deliveries to both water agencies and end-users were reduced in 2009 and 2010.
The Municipal Water District of Orange County and its five Project Partners – Laguna Beach County Water District, Moulton Niguel Water District, City of San Clemente, City of San Juan Capistrano, and South Coast Water District, have explored the feasibility of developing an ocean desalination facility in south Orange County that would produce local drinking water and decrease reliance upon imported water supplies. A 2004 Water Reliability Study recommended an ocean desalination project in Dana Point due to the potential supply and system reliability benefits. This location was recommended due to the geology, availability of land, existing outfall for brine disposal, and proximity to existing water pipelines. These factors make it conducive to utilizing environmentally sensitive and sustainable desalination technology that utilizes a slant well intake. (See below for slant well schematic.)
With an estimated completion date of 2018, the Doheny Desalination facility could supply 15 million gallons a day of drought-proof local drinking water, which would be about 25% of the participating agencies’ potable water demand.


The First Project of its Kind

The Doheny Desalination Facility uses subsurface slant well technology to tap beneath San Juan Creek and under the ocean floor to draw feed water. The subsurface water intake system uses sand-filtration as ‘pre-treatment,’ which is a natural filtering process that occurs as ocean water percolates through sand and gravel. This process yields high-quality feed water that can go directly to reverse osmosis membrane treatment. This first step greatly reduces project costs by eliminating the need for costly pretreatment facilities and open-water intake systems.

By design, the slant well intake system does not impact or harm marine life. The Doheny Desalination Project has been very well received by the California Coastal Commission and has been supported by environmental groups such as Trout Unlimited, the Surfrider Foundation, OC Coastkeeper, and Project Save Our Surf.

Submit your letter of support to: P.O. Box 20895, Fountain Valley, CA 92728


Download and print the Doheny Desalination Project briefing paper here.

Download and print the   Doheny Ocean Desalination status report   here:

View Doheny Desalination Project Reports here.

MWDOC and its Project Partners meet monthly to discuss project events and activities. Members of the public are welcome to attend.  Meetings are held at the Dana Hills Tennis Center at 24911 Calle de Tenis in Dana Point, CA 92629. 
Meeting Agendas and Handouts can be downloaded here.

Doheny Desalination Project (a.ka. South Orange Coastal Ocean Desalination Project (SODOD) Newsletter:

SOCOD Project Newsletter - 2010

SOCOD Project Newsletter - 2008


For more information about the Doheny Desalination Project (a.k.a. South Orange Coastal Ocean Desalination Project (SOCOD)), please email MWDOC Assistant General Manager/District Engineer Karl Seckel or call (714) 593-5024.