U.S. Water News Online
FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif. -- The Orange County Water District
is working with the coastal and inland water agencies and cities in
Orange County to shift groundwater pumping (6.5 billions of gallons
of water this year) to lessen the strain on OCWD's seawater barrier.
The seawater barrier holds back the Pacific Ocean from infiltrating
and contaminating the fresh water in the groundwater basin, which
provides water for 2.3 million residents in Orange County.
The Coastal Pumping Transfer Program, which will shift pumping
from along the coastal area to inland areas, is needed due to the
recent four-year drought in the Santa Ana River watershed and to
relieve pressure on the seawater intrusion barrier until expansion
improvements are completed in 2007.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the ocean moved about three miles inland
in Orange County due to increased groundwater use and resulting
decreased water levels in the groundwater basin. This resulted in
several drinking water wells along the coast being permanently closed
due to seawater contamination.
In the 1970s, OCWD installed an underground fresh water barrier to
hold back the ocean. The barrier consisted of 26 injection wells
along the coast in Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley that injected
purified wastewater underground to create a "fresh water mound" above
sea level, preventing ocean intrusion.
Due to increased groundwater use over the years, OCWD is now at a
point where the barrier must be expanded. An additional eight wells
will be installed to allow OCWD to increase the amount of purified
water that can be injected from 5 million gallons to 40 million
gallons per day.
In the interim, OCWD has worked out an innovative solution to
minimize the stress on the existing barrier by moving the pumping
inland and reducing the pumping along the coast.
Coastal water agencies and cities (Mesa Consolidated Water
District [Costa Mesa] and Irvine Ranch Water District and the cities
of Newport Beach and Huntington Beach) will pump less water and rely
on more imported water, while the inland cities of Anaheim,
Fullerton, Santa Ana, Buena Park, Orange, Westminster and the
Southern California Water Company (serves Cypress, Los Alamitos,
Placentia, Stanton) will pump more groundwater and use less imported
OCWD has designed the program so there is no cost difference for
the participating water agencies, even though some will pump cheaper
groundwater (about $200 for each acre foot of water used) and others
will use more imported water (costs about $450 for the same
Eventually, a new water purification and water supply project,
called the Groundwater Replenishment System, will be on-line in 2007
and produce about 40 million gallons of water per day to expand and
rejuvenate the seawater barrier that currently only receives 5
million gallons of water per day.
The inland pumping transfer program will be reviewed each year to
see if it is necessary to continue. Gradual refilling of the
groundwater basin by recharge of the Santa Ana River and natural
rainfall will help fill the groundwater basin, which also reduces the
stress on the seawater barrier.
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. The California Legislature created it 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 log on
to www.ocwd.com .
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