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The Orange County Water District (OCWD) board last night voted eight to two to protect the groundwater basin for future generations by reducing the amount of groundwater provided to its water retailers in north and central Orange County.
The reduction in the amount of groundwater pumped from 75 percent to 66 percent of the water retailers total demand, and increase in the cost of groundwater from $127 per acre-foot to $149 per acre-foot, translates into an average increase of 10 percent for some water retailers, or an additional $1.50 to $2 on the average monthly residential water bill.
"To get to this point, we have cut our proposed annual budget $4 million and continue to examine possible reductions in other areas before the final budget is approved in June," said OCWD Board President Denis R. Bilodeau. "We will continue to place our highest priority on providing high-quality drinking water in order to continue to maintain a healthy groundwater basin and water supply."
The board's action addresses Orange County's low groundwater levels and continuing seawater intrusion. The board reduced the amount of groundwater available to its water retailers and increased the cost of groundwater to buy more water to begin filling the basin after four years of drought in Southern California.
By lowering the amount of groundwater use and shifting the pumping in the basin inward away from the coast, OCWD hopes to hold back seawater intrusion. The lower groundwater levels were caused by gradually increasing groundwater production over the last 10 years and drought conditions over the past four years that reduced the amount of local water available to refill the basin.
OCWD has already begun to implement a new "zero-based" basin management strategy that links the amount of future groundwater use with guaranteed replenishment water available and the capability of OCWD to put that water into deep aquifers.
The OCWD board is also working to improve the agency's ability to put more water into the groundwater basin, to determine the best level for water in the groundwater basin and to encourage more residential and business conservation.
The Orange County Water District (OCWD) manages and protects the huge groundwater basin underlying north and central Orange County. OCWD is a special district, separate from the County of Orange or any city government. It was created by the California Legislature in 1933 to oversee Orange County's groundwater basin.
The groundwater basin supplies more than half of the water needs for 2.3 million residents in the cities of Anaheim, Buena Park, Cypress, Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Irvine, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Newport Beach, Orange, Placentia, Santa Ana, Seal Beach, Stanton, Tustin, Villa Park, Westminster and Yorba Linda. To learn more about water logon to www.ocwd.com.