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.

President's Message –
Meeting the
Conservation Mark
Director Cathy Green's Photo
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, California is in an exceptional drought: "Exceptional or widespread crop/pasture loss; a shortage of water in reservoirs and streams creating a water emergency." This is the definition of "exceptional drought" by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

A wet winter is anticipated because of forecasts of an El Niño, which is an above normal surface temperature in the southeast Pacific. El Niño refers to the Christ child because it often occurs at Christmas or midwinter. Forecasts* through October show that the drought will not only persist, it will intensify. Despite a wet winter, there will not be enough rain to make up for the four years of drought California has sustained.

Even without a drought, California has an ever-increasing demand for water due to growth in population, agriculture and industry.

California Governor Jerry Brown announced actions to save water, increase enforcement to prevent wasteful water use, streamline the state's drought response, and invest in new technologies that will make California more drought resilient.

For the first time in state history, the governor directed the State Water Resources Control Board to implement mandatory water reduction in cities and towns across California to reduce water usage by 25 percent overall. These mandatory reductions were partly in response to the state conserving a mere 9 percent in 2014 as part of a voluntary request by the governor at that time.

As of June 1, 2015, each urban water supplier has been put into one of eight tiers which are assigned a conservation standard, ranging between reductions of four percent and 36 percent. Why such a disparity in the percentages? It is based on a per person goal of using 75 gallons per day and takes into consideration that some of us have been using water efficiently and others have not. The figures will be compared to water consumption of the same month starting in 2013. At the end of February 2016, the water districts will be evaluated for their compliance.

The reality is that residents in the Orange County Water District have already begun to cut back. A comparison of total water demand figures of June 2015 vs. June 2013 currently shows a reduction of about 26 percent overall. It's a very good start.

Supplier % Saved June 2015 vs. June 2013 Target
East Orange County Water District 36.7 36%
Golden State Water Company Cowen Heights 36.0 36%
Serrano Water District 44.7 36%
Yorba Linda Water District 37.9 36%
Fullerton 24.4 28%
La Habra Public Works 22.8 28%
Newport Beach 20.5 28%
Orange 23.6 28%
Tustin 27.4 28%
Golden State Water Company Placentia 27.0 24%
Anaheim 24.7 20%
Buena Park 24.8 20%
Fountain Valley 25.0 20%
Garden Grove 28.6 20%
Huntington Beach 26.5 20%
La Palma 22.3 20%
Mesa Water District 26.1 20%
Westminster 17.6 20%
Golden State Water Company West Orange 23.3 16%
Irvine Ranch Water District 12.3 16%
Santa Ana 18.7 12%
Seal Beach 21.9 8%

The Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) is doing its part to manage the groundwater basin and deliver reliable water to its providers and their consumers. Groundwater levels in the basin are very low right now. The basin is about 80 percent depleted, but still within the normal historic operating range due to careful planning and the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS).

Over the last three years, OCWD has purchased $79.3 million worth of imported water to replenish the basin and offset major impacts of the drought. OCWD also recently invested $142 million to expand the GWRS. The GWRS now produces 100 million gallons of water each day—enough to satisfy the water needs of 850,000 people. This constitutes about 25 percent of our water portfolio.

Investments to generate more local water are substantial and will most likely be seen as part of an increase in your water bill. That’s another incentive for us all to use water more efficiently. Without the GWRS investment, we would only be able to get approximately 60 percent of our supplies from the local groundwater basin, versus 70 percent today. With groundwater costing $402 an acre foot (AF) and imported water costing about $1000 AF, the investment is a sound one that has brought us more reliability.

Since about half of water use is for outdoor landscaping, residents might find a lot of ways to conserve water through smart California landscaping. The state is giving incentives to conserve in other ways by offering a number of rebates for items such as efficient irrigation control and sprinklers, rain barrels and rain gutters. Visit the website of your local water provider and www.bewaterwise.com to learn more about drought resilient landscaping, water conservation programs, rebates, and mandates for your area.

*Source: NOAA/NWS/NCEP/Climate Prediction Center.