Orange County Branch Newsletter

August 2015

Branch News - ASCE OC Branch/EWRI Joint Luncheon

Water District Panel (MWDOC, OCWD, SMWD, and MNWD)

As a result of the current drought in California, state law makers took action this past July and issued mandatory water cuts to water suppliers throughout the state to help alleviate water supply concerns and mitigate the impact of the drought.  By February 2016, water districts and suppliers throughout the state are required to reduce their water use by a specified percentage.  The required reduction percentage varies per district/supplier, but the overall average cut is 25%.  These mandatory cuts have left the various water suppliers asking a very important question:
How do you convince your customers to consume less of your product?
This question, posed by Daniel Ferons from the Santa Margarita Water District, was one of the many topics of discussion as four representatives from four local water districts provided insight into recent state mandated water reductions at the ASCE Orange County Branch/EWRI Luncheon in July.  The speakers included Matt Collings, Assistant General Manager of the Moulton Niguel Water District (MNWD), Adam Hutchinson, Recharge Planning Manager for the Orange County Water District (OCWD), Daniel Ferons, General Manager of the Santa Margarita Water District, and Joe Berg, Water Use Efficiency Programs Manager for the Municipal Water District of Orange County.  Between the four of them, they have over 75 years of water resources planning and design experience.  Attendees of the luncheon presentation greatly benefited from their vast knowledge and expertise in the field as each representative discussed their district’s required cuts and the resulting strategies, options, and plans of action for meeting the state’s conservation requirements.
As the four southern California water district representatives began presenting their approaches to water efficiency and conservation, a trend was invariably noticed.  Mr. Collings stressed the importance of collaboration and communication – within the District and with consumers – and focused on developing an appropriate water budget. He encouraged educating consumers on the benefits of water efficiency and providing incentives for smart water planning and budgeting.  Mr. Hutchinson emphasized the exploration of alternative water sources as he explained the importance of water reliability and the insurance provided by area groundwater basin storage during dry periods.  He talked about current water sources, and focused on recycled water for recharging to mitigate the drought impact.  Mr. Ferons put the issue into perspective as he provided visuals of ever decreasing California snowpack, and promoted focusing not just on increasing water conservation, but also on optimally utilizing current water supplies.  After posing the question above, he emphasized the need to change the way we think about water – both as suppliers and consumers – and essentially be “Water Smart.”  Mr. Berg provided useful tools for increasing water efficiency in this current “Drought Emergency.”  He described example outreach programs that encourage water users to “Be Water Wise” and be “Water Heroes.”
The running theme throughout the event: knowledge – thinking differently about water, exploring conservation possibilities, optimizing use of current supplies, discovering new sources, and getting the word out on water efficiency incentives and options.  With knowledge, the balance between water supply and demand can be found, and both suppliers and consumers can become water wise. Only then will the state’s water reductions be met.  As Mr. Collings put it, “Knowledge is Key.”




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