OCWD Announces Increase in Groundwater Production

April 2, 2000
FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif. -- Orange County Water District (OCWD) Tuesday reported that groundwater production from more than 20 cities and water agencies in north and central Orange County increased to approximately 116 billion gallons (356,000 acre-feet) during the water year July 1, 1998 to June 30, 1999, a 9% increase over the previous water year. Usage during the previous water year totaled about 107 billion gallons (329,000 acre-feet). An acre-foot is enough water to cover a football field to a depth of one foot -- about 325,900 gallons of water -- and supplies the water needs of two Orange County families for a year. Since the 1950's, groundwater production from Orange County's large groundwater basin has more than doubled from approximately 50 billion gallons per year to 116 billion gallons of water per year today. Each year for the past few years, cities and water agencies in north and central Orange County have obtained 75% of their water needs from the groundwater basin. The remaining 25% of their needs comes from imported water from Northern California and the Colorado River. Groundwater costs retail agencies about $150 per acre-foot, which equates to about 3 to 4 cents per gallon. Imported water costs about $450 per acre-foot, or about three times as much. South Orange County is dependent primarily on imported water. "With the constantly increasing use of groundwater in Orange County, more emphasis must and will be put on water conservation and water reuse," said Irv Pickler, president of OCWD's board of directors. "You will see more and more water agencies promoting ultra low-flow toilets and shower heads, water efficient horizontal clothes washers and new, more efficient irrigation systems." The groundwater basin in Orange County is replenished primarily by flows of the Santa Ana River. Santa Ana River flows during this past water year were approximately 5% above a normal year and provided about 66 billion gallons of water. Approximately 50 billion gallons of additional water went into the basin from imported sources, natural recharge and water put into the aquifers along the coast to prevent seawater intrusion. The population within OCWD's service area (north and central Orange County) is expected to increase from the current 2.2 million to about 2.6 million people by the year 2020, based on estimates from cities and water agencies. To meet these growing needs, it is OCWD's goal to implement various programs and projects that will further increase groundwater production by another 120,000 acre-feet by the year 2020. Increasing groundwater production will greatly reduce the additional amount of more expensive Northern California and Colorado River water that will have to be imported to supply Orange County's needs. In addition, the cost of water in the future will increase due to several factors, including increased demand, replacement of aging water infrastructure, more stringent water quality requirements and the cost of finding new water to accommodate growth. CONTACT: Business Wire

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