When early settlers first planted roots here in the 1700s, communities in Orange County relied heavily on surface water provided by the Santa Ana River to meet their basic needs. With just a single source of water to rely upon, residents here were severely impacted by periods of drought and flood. The introduction of groundwater as a water source released the region from the limitations of the Santa Ana River, allowing Orange County to grow faster than ever before. With a significant portion of the county now pulling water out of the ground, the aquifer quickly became over-pumped. Soon, it became clear that Orange County cities needed to seek alternative sources of water. In 1928, Anaheim, Fullerton, and Santa Ana joined ten other Southern California cities in the formation of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (Metropolitan). The aim was to import water from the Colorado River for the thirsty region.
The supplemental water supplies of Metropolitan encouraged other Orange County water providers to collaborate creating the Coastal Municipal Water District (Coastal) in 1941 and Orange County Municipal Water District (OCMWD) in 1951- OCMWD would go on to change it’s name to Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC). The entirety of Orange County benefitted from Metropolitan, allowing the county to thrive thanks to reliable water supplies. In 1999, Coastal and MWDOC merged to become the third largest Metropolitan member agency, which assigned voting power based on total accessed value. The combined voting power of MWDOC and the three original cities allows Orange County to be one of the strongest voices in Metropolitan policy.
MWDOC is a wholesale water supplier and resource planning agency whose efforts focus on sound planning and appropriate investments in water supply development, water use efficiency, public information, legislative advocacy, water education and emergency preparedness.
Today, MWDOC serves over 2.3 million Orange County residents through 28 retail water agencies. MWDOC’s service area covers all of Orange County with the exception of the cities of Anaheim, Fullerton and Santa Ana.