Orange County tries new pathways for water resilience; model for other water-stressed regions

In the face of the Southern California’s semi-arid Mediterranean climate, compounded by several years of drought throughout the state, the region has developed local resilience through state-of-the-art groundwater management.
Paving the way for a more resilient water system, authorities in northern and central Orange County have partnered to develop imaginative approaches to reducing dependence on imported water.
There are two key features of OCWD’s multifaceted strategy to efficiently use every drop: wastewater reuse and groundwater basin governance.
Wastewater reuse Boasting the largest planned indirect potable reuse system in the world, OCWD’s Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) captures and reuses recycled water that has been treated to exceed federal and state drinking water standards.
The Orange Country Sanitation District (OCSD) served as a key partner in helping Orange County fund the System instead of building a second ocean disposal pipeline.
Groundwater basin governance The creative case of pursuing water sustainability in Orange County may serve as an example of an integrated water paradigm that presents tools and guidance to other urban centers, particularly including cities in developing countries.
OCWD’s focus on groundwater basin governance through a diversified recharge strategy not only protects the quality of water in the aquifer from seawater intrusion, but also increases the storage capacity of the basin over time.
Orange County is sharing successful strategies, technologies, and approaches to water resilience with developing countries through the Water Scarce Cities Initiative.
WSC is documenting cases, such as that of Orange County, and sharing the successes and challenges of with cities in water scarce regions in the global South.
[1] Refers to projects that will use reclaimed wastewater and inject it, through wells drilled along the coastline, to create an underground barrier against seawater intrusion into the fresh groundwater aquifer.

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