It is important to remember that Orange County is an arid region and requires water from a variety of sources to meet and sustain its water demands. Groundwater, groundwater replenishment or recharge, and recycled water sources provide about 50 percent of supply. The remainder is imported either from the Colorado River via a 242-mile long aqueduct, or from the State Water Project, a massive water delivery and storage system that originates at Lake Oroville and extends 700 miles into Riverside County.
Over 3 million Orange County residents and businesses depend on a safe and dependable water delivery system. Each day, Orange County’s complex water systems face tremendous challenges. Some of these challenges come far from the Orange County boundaries. Natural disasters such as drought, floods, earthquakes and climate change put pressure on both the structural soundness of our existing system and threaten our water supply levels. Levy failures in the Bay Delta, regulatory pumping restrictions and aging infrastructure are also serious concerns. Continuing to invest in additional water sources such as ocean desalination, will be critical to both our economy and sustaining Orange County’s growth.
Going forward, planning and investing in additional local sources will be imperative to achieving water reliability. We must expand our portfolio of water supply sources including imported water from the State Water Project and the Colorado River Aqueduct, advanced water recycling, groundwater development, ocean desalination, storm water capture and brackish water recovery, water transfers and storage, and expanded water-use efficiency or conservation efforts, to maintain water reliability. Investing in new water sources, using our supplies as efficiently as possible, and ensuring our existing supplies are sustainable, is critical to our lifestyle and to our economy.
Currently two ocean desalination projects being considered in Orange County – the South Orange Coastal Ocean Desalination Project (SOCOD) in Dana Point, and the Huntington Beach Ocean Desalination Project in Huntington Beach. Both projects are being carefully evaluated by the Municipal Water District of Orange County, it’s project partners, and other Orange County cities and water agencies, for both benefit and cost. You can learn more about each of these projects by clicking on the links above.
For more information about desalination, please email MWDOC Assistant General Manager/District Engineer Karl Seckel or call (714) 593-5024.