President’s Message: It's All on the Table...

A reliable water supply is all about generating more water. And, the April 29, 2021 approval granted to Poseidon Water, by the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board, for an ocean desalination plant in Huntington Beach puts Orange County another step closer to improving our water reliability.

As president of the Orange County Water District (OCWD) Board of Directors, I know it’s our job at OCWD to explore all projects that diversify our water portfolio and enhance reliability. That is why in May 2015, OCWD approved a Term Sheet with Poseidon for the proposed desalination project which provides the structure for a potential partnership to purchase up to 56,000 acre-feet of water per year. The Term Sheet further specifies that Poseidon develops and constructs the treatment plant while OCWD develops and constructs the water distribution system.

The next step for Poseidon is to secure a permit from the California Coastal Commission and once that is done a long-term water purchase agreement would be brought before the OCWD Board of Directors for its consideration.

Whether it is exploring ocean desalination, expanding water recycling at our Groundwater Replenishment System, increasing storage of storm flows behind Prado Dam, or sustainably managing our groundwater basin supply, it’s all on the table to ensure water supply reliability for the 19 cities and water agencies we serve.

Desalination offers a new source of clean water that reduces the region’s dependence on imported water sources from Northern California and the Colorado River that are vulnerable to drought, natural disasters, environmental concerns, and regulatory restrictions. With the possible beginnings of another drought cycle occurring, it is a reminder that we must do all that we can to invest in local water infrastructure projects and diversify our water sources.

The recent series of announcements from state officials about drought and dry conditions create doubt in the stability of California’s future water supply picture, but it is important to note that as California faces irregularities in weather patterns that challenge our water reliability, OCWD is committed to providing innovative solutions and adhering to responsible and cost-effective planning to increase the security of our local water supplies.

Rest assured, the highly professional staff and committed Board of Directors at OCWD see protecting and increasing our water supply as Job #1. In past decades, the financially sound infrastructure investments made by OCWD have resulted in reduced costs of water to ratepayers and significantly greater water supply for Orange County residents and businesses.