OCWD Board of Directors

Cathy Green
First Vice President
Denis R. Bilodeau, P.E.
Second Vice President
Philip L. Anthony
Jordan Brandman
Shawn Dewane
Jan M. Flory, ESQ.
Dina L. Nguyen, ESQ.
Roman Reyna
Stephen R. Sheldon
Roger C. Yoh, P.E.
General Manager
Michael R. Markus
P.E., D.WRE.

January 2015 President's Message—
Right as Rain Drought Prediction?

Happy New Year!

Last year ended brightly—with rain. December brought us 3.5 inches of rain in Orange County and boosted our groundwater supply by nearly 40,000 acre-feet—enough water for about 300,000 people for an entire year. We received an additional 0.7 inches in January. The groundwater basin, which gets about two-thirds of its water from rain, was about an inch above normal for this time of year, but we'll be anxiously looking at the critical rain months.

January, February and March have historically been Orange County's wettest months, yet one of the time-honored "crystal balls" of rainfall prediction—the Old Farmer's Almanac—sees a dry foreseeable future in the Southland: "Rainfall will be above normal in the north and below in the south. Mountain snows will be below normal, with the snowiest periods in early to mid-January and mid- to late February."

OCWD depends heavily on the local mountain snowpack to provide water to the Santa Ana River and eventually to our groundwater basin, so this is very bad news.

In addition to the bleak forecast, the Metropolitan Water District (MWD; MET) may not be able to deliver all of the water the Orange County Water District requested to help recharge the groundwater basin in 2015.

So, if the Old Farmer's Almanac is correct, Southern California is going on four years of drought with record lack of rainfall. That means our very low groundwater basin reserves could potentially get a lot lower.

As the current California drought reminds us, we can't always rely on imported water supplies to meet our local needs. To provide our county with additional protection, OCWD is obligated to explore other reasonable options to purchase water for recharging our important basin.

The Orange County Water District approves of the practical, affordable and environmentally responsible development of ocean desalination for the benefit of Orange County residents and businesses.

OCWD's board of directors recently approved of entering into preliminary negotiations with Poseidon Resources so as to gain financial and project information necessary to consider the feasibility of purchasing 56,000 acre-feet annually of water created by the Huntington Beach Ocean Desalination Plant. (See the story OCWD Encourages Citizen Input as it Begins Desalination Negotiations in this newsletter.)

The board will also appoint a citizen's advisory committee to ensure the public is provided opportunities to provide input. An ocean desalination project serving Orange County can only move forward if there is broad consensus and acceptance from the public. Many significant milestones remain before a full commitment to desalination is made.

OCWD is an acknowledged world leader in reuse and groundwater management. Our Groundwater Replenishment System, which provides enough water for 600,000 people of the 2.4 million we serve, is celebrating seven years of service this month. We are looking forward to completion of its Initial Expansion in early spring 2015 and 30 million more gallons of water each day—enough to meet the needs of a total of 850,000 people.

We'll continue to do our part to bring reliable, high-quality water to the citizens and businesses of north and central Orange County. We ask you to do your part to conserve this most precious resource as together we weather this continuing drought.