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Drought's Effect on Water Supplies

August 21, 1988

The Municipal Water District of Orange County would like to respond to recent letters from the public commenting on the drought.

Questions have been raised about whether water supplies are adequate to support new homes and businesses, particularly in light of local government's appeal to the public this year to reduce water use by 10%.

Under normal circumstances, water supplies are adequate. Once in a while, extreme variations in precipitation occur. Water supply systems very rarely are designed to survive such severe shortages without some discomforting adjustments. The cost would be prohibitive. This year, a severe shortage of water has arisen in the Central Valley of California. The rivers that supply many of the residents in the San Francisco Bay Area contain only about 40% of the average amount expected. Bay Area residents are being required to reduce their water usage by 25%, a severe cut.

Water supplies for Southern California are made up of about one-third from local streams and ground-water basins, and the rest from water imported by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California from either the Colorado River or the delta near Sacramento. The supply from the Colorado River is adequate for the foreseeable future. There is sufficient water available from the delta in all but the driest years. 1988 is one of those critically dry years.

Overall, water supplies for Southern California are barely adequate for this year.

The responsibility for finding additional sources of water for the future is really a process of searching for the next-most-economical source. Metropolitan is exploring a number of additional sources of water supplies that would result in little, if any, effect on the price of water. Many sources are available at higher costs, including reclaimed waste water and desalinated ocean water. The only real limitation to our water supply is the cost we are willing to pay.

The Municipal Water District of Orange County assures consumers that adequate water supplies are available so long as we use them wisely.

H.E. (Bill) HARTGE

President, Board of Directors

Municipal Water DiStrict

of Orange County

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