Drought in California

California's drought: It's serious. We're in it together. We're all part of the solution.

California is in the midst of its fifth consecutive year of a very serious drought. 2014 was the hottest and 2013 was the driest year on record in the state, and as dry conditions continue, some regions throughout the state are being severely impacted. On April 1, 2015, Governor Jerry Brown ordered mandatory water use restrictions for the first time in California’s history and directed the State Water Resources Control Board to implement mandatory 25 percent reductions in potable urban water use from amounts used in 2013. This regulation is used at the discretion of local water retailers. In October 2015, Governor Brown declared a state of emergency on tree die-off and sought federal assistance to help mobilize resources to remove dead and dying trees. On November 13, 2015, he issued an executive order calling for additional actions to build on the state's drought response. And on May 9, 2016, Governor Brown issued an executive order to establish long-term conservation measures including permanent water use standards and monthly water use reporting.

While there is no immediate danger of water supply interruptions here in Orange County, we must use our water supplies as efficiently as possible because we don't know how long the drought will last. We’re asking for everyone’s help reducing their daily water use to help get us through this extended drought.

What is the Orange County Water District doing?

Sound planning. Appropriate investment. Ensuring a highly reliable water supply.

North and central Orange County have a valuable asset, a local groundwater basin managed by the Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) that provides nearly two-thirds of the water supply for 2.4 million people. Knowing the likely occurrence of droughts in California, OCWD saves reserve funds to prepare for and respond to drought conditions.

The District has spent $80 million over the past three years purchasing untreated imported water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD). The water was recharged into the groundwater basin which helped to partially refill the basin and somewhat offset the impacts of the recent drought. Although groundwater levels have fallen, they are still within normal historic operating range. In addition to saving for a not-so rainy day, continuous planning, designing, building and operations of cost-effective water infrastructure projects have been core functions of OCWD since 1933.

OCWD recently invested $142 million to expand the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS), an award-winning water purification system that takes treated wastewater from the Orange County Sanitation District and purifies it to meet or exceed drinking water standards. The expansion, completed in June 2015, produces an additional 30 million gallons a day (MGD), taking the GWRS total production to 100 MGD. This is enough water to meet the combined water demands of the cities of Anaheim and Huntington Beach.

In addition to being reliable during drought, GWRS water is about half the cost of imported supplies and is controlled locally, saving cities in OCWD's service area millions of dollars annually. OCWD will continue to invest in water infrastructure and explore alternative water sources to ensure long-term water reliability.

What can residents do?

Thank you Orange County residents. Over the years you have been working hard to implement water use efficiency and have supported investments in local water reliability, like water recycling and water use efficiency programs that are now sustaining the region. Orange County water providers have a variety of resources, rebates, and water use efficiency tips to help residents and businesses do even more. We must make lifelong commitments to practice water use efficiency.

Listed below are the 19 local water retailers in north and central Orange County that are served by the Orange County Water District, and the 11 other agencies in south Orange County that provide water to homes and businesses throughout the county. Please contact your local retailer for specific information about rebates, water use efficiency programs and enforcement of the new emergency water conservation regulations approved by the State Water Resources Control Board that are in effect. Programs will vary from city to city.

To learn more about restrictions and fines in your city, click on the pertinent link below:

Drought resources

2015 California Drought

2015 California drought
Via Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

Conservation & Water Saving Tips

Conservation and water saving tips
Via Metropolitan Water District of Southern California