OCWD Water Recycling Project Receives Prop. 1 Funding

$9.1 million in competitive Proposition 1 funding will go toward a critical Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) water recycling project, the Mid Basin Centennial Park Injection (MBI) Project. The project will provide multiple water recycling benefits to the Orange County region while also addressing statewide priorities.

The 2.5 year MBI Project will inject purified water from OCWD’s Groundwater Replenishment System into the principal aquifer of the Orange County Groundwater Basin, providing an additional source of water to replenish it. The basin, managed by OCWD, provides 75 percent of the water supply for 2.5 million people in north and central Orange County. The project construction is taking place in the Santa Ana region of the Orange County Groundwater Basin and is expected to be completed in 2019. It will provide six to 10 million gallons per day of water to fill the groundwater basin, enough water for up to 85,000 people. 

“It’s OCWD’s mission to provide water reliability for the 2.5 million people we serve in north and central Orange County and we try to do this in the most cost-effective manner possible,” said OCWD President Denis Bilodeau. “Our staff works diligently at long-term planning so that we can identify and apply for all possible funding opportunities to help offset project costs. We are very grateful to the State Water Resources Control Board for its support of our project,” he added. 

OCWD submitted a Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) Loan and Proposition 1 Water Recycling Grant Application for the MBI Project to the Division of Financial Assistance at the State Water Resources Control Board in May 2016. Many water and wastewater agencies throughout California were applying for this competitive funding.

“This project is a prime example of what Prop. 1 money was intended for,” said State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus. “It helps increase local Orange County water supplies using one of our most prized water savings accounts, a groundwater aquifer. This project truly better prepares the region for long-term drought and lessens demand on imported water. These types of projects benefit regions and the overall state,” she added. 

In 2014, California voters approved Proposition 1, the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014. Proposition 1 authorized $7.5 billion in general obligation bonds intended to provide significant investments in the state’s drought-challenged water systems. The funding was to be designated for water projects including surface and groundwater storage, ecosystem and watershed protection and restoration, and drinking water protection. Bond money is generally appropriated to specific state agencies, who distribute it as cost-share grants through a competitive process. The State Water Resources Control Board administers Proposition 1 funds for five programs: small community wastewater, water recycling, drinking water, stormwater, and groundwater sustainability. The Department of Water Resources was also charged with administering Prop. 1 funds.