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.

WACO Explores
El Niño

Representatives from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) were featured speakers at the November 6 Water Advisory Committee of Orange County (WACO) program El Niño: Are We Prepared?

Dr. Michael Gunson, Global Change & Energy Program manager & Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 Project scientist from JPL noted that this current El Niño is comparable to those in 1982-83 and 1997-98, which both experienced very wet winters.

Atmospheric rivers, narrow regions in the atmosphere which transport water vapors, bring most of the precipitation to the west coast of California. Major impacts from rainfall are related to the flux, direction, duration and spatial extent of a storm. In addition, while water surface temperatures are rising, bringing unique fish species to the Pacific coastline, the warm water front makes predicting this winter’s weather more difficult. Above average ocean temperatures can alter the path of the jet stream and winter storms that travel along it.

Demetri Polyzos, senior engineer, MWD, Water Resources Management Group, spoke about El Niño and its impacts to Northern California supplies. El Niño’s effects have already begun to be seen in Southern California. It has been responsible for record rainfall in portions of the Upper Colorado River Basin, strong July rains in Southern California, the wettest day (in September) since the drought began, and in October, mudslides shut down portions of the California Aqueduct. But the uncertainties of El Niño’s predicted effects—bringing wet winters to Southern California while bringing drier winters to the north-- raise doubt that the weather pattern will reverse the drought.

The next WACO meeting focuses on water reliability and will take place Friday, Dec. 11 at 7:30 a.m. in the OCWD Board Room.

To view past presentations, please visit the Water Advisory Committee of Orange County.