FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif. -- An historic water transfer agreement was approved recently that will provide 190,000 Orange County residents with a year's supply of water. The groundwater will be transported from San Bernardino County to Orange County's groundwater basin later this year.
The agreement was made between the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District, Western Municipal Water District, and the Orange County Water District (with support from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California).
"This transfer has been a number of years in the making and is a wonderful model for other water entities," said Irv Pickler, OCWD Board President. "It is fortunate that the high groundwater situation in San Bernardino could be transformed into this transfer agreement that benefits all three counties.
"We are very pleased with this cooperative program," said Louis Fletcher, general manager of the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District. This kind of collaboration is key to solving many of California's water problems.
This agreement represents a cooperative effort between agencies within and outside our service area to meet two very real needs: the need to extract potentially damaging, high levels of groundwater in San Bernardino, and the need for additional water sources in Orange County," said Elizabeth Cunnison, president of the Board of Directors of the Western Municipal Water District.
The transfer is a win-win situation for all parties involved. It solves a lingering problem for San Bernardino County, where high levels of groundwater threaten to damage property in the Bunker Hill area. Orange County will benefit from a low-cost source ($1.5 million compared to at least $2.5 million from other imported sources) of high quality water that will provide 10,000 acre-feet of groundwater. Income from the water will be used by the Western and San Bernardino water districts to cover costs related to water pumping, conservation efforts, and water quality improvements within their service areas.
The current agreement is for this year only, however, it is probable that the transfer will be renewed in the future if groundwater levels remain high in San Bernardino.
Water transfers are one of several innovative solutions proposed by the California water industry to meet California's growing population, which is expected to double by 2040.
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