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WRD was formed in 1959 and covers about 400 square miles of south Los Angeles County, which includes about 10 percent of the state’s population. Our job is to put a pump tax on groundwater pumping and use that money to replenish the groundwater here. We replace the water that is pumped out in order to keep the basins as sources of groundwater supply.

Our basins have annual pumping of about 250,000 acre-feet, which is 40 percent of the total water consumed in our area—but Mother Nature only supplies about half of that. Our job is to make up the other half that Mother Nature does not supply in an average year.

While the widely-forecast and much-anticipated El Nino dropped heavy rain and snow in Northern California, lifting reservoirs to near capacity, El Nino did not materialize in Southern California, leading us into another year of drought conditions. 

All this means two main things. 

First, we cannot assume that what has been regarded as “normal” precipitation over the long-term will ever be normal again. That is not to say that we should not be prepared to capture as much local rainfall as we can when it does rain. We should, we can and we do. 

But it also means that water imported from Northern California and the Colorado River cannot be relied on to meet the replenishment needs of WRD.

That is why a decade ago, the WRD Board determined that we need to eliminate our reliance on imported water to replenishment our groundwater aquifer and adopted the Water Independence Now (WIN) strategy , which is a series of projects that utilize additional recycled water and stormwater capture with the goal of making our groundwater aquifers completely independent of imported water.

In addition to the risk of earthquake, as the state has become painfully aware, water supply from the Sacramento Delta is also vulnerable to protracted drought. So we can’t wait for a state fix, which is something WRD realized even before the State Water Project was built.

53 years ago, WRD became the first water agency in the country to use recycled water for groundwater recharge.

As the governor has said, we’re on “Spaceship Earth” in a closed system. We’re not going to get any more water molecules, and we need to value and put to beneficial use the ones we have.

In the last decade, we’ve completed the advanced water treatment plant in East Long Beach, providing 100 percent recycled water to the Alamitos Barrier, which protects against seawater intrusion in the south portion of Long Beach and the north portion of Orange County. Now, we’re completely off of imported water for replenishment in the south part of the Central Basin. 

In the West Basin side, we partnered with West Basin Municipal Water District to build Phase 5 of their advanced treatment water plant in El Segundo. That has been completed, and replaces about two billion gallons of imported water annually with purified recycled water for the seawater barrier along the West Coast, running from the airport down to Palos Verdes. This completely eliminates the need for imported water for this seawater intrusion barrier.

The WRD has purchased five acres of property near the spreading grounds in the Montebello Forebay, next to the Rio Hondo and San Gabriel Rivers, where we’re going to construct an advanced water treatment plant known as the Groundwater Reliability Improvement Project, or GRIP, as we lovingly call it. That treatment plant, when completed in 2018, will eliminate the need for any imported water for replenishment of our groundwater aquifers and will completely drought-proof the Central Basin. We start construction early next year, and we’ll be done about two years after that.

Lastly, we’re working with the City of Los Angeles Department of Water & Power and Bureau of Sanitation on Phase 2 of the Terminal Island Advanced Water Treatment Facility. The mayor held a groundbreaking there in the spring. It will provide an additional two million gallons a day of recycled water for the Dominguez Gap seawater barrier, which is located north of the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. This will bring the entire seawater barrier system for south Los Angeles County into recycled water utilization, with no need for imported water.

We are also looking for funds to construct an addition to our brackish water desalting plant in Torrance which when completed next year, will allow 5 million gallons a day of salty groundwater to be pumped, treated and served to City of Torrance residents, replacing imported water.

Our 20-year Groundwater Master Plan, which is nearly complete, would provide a roadmap to increase groundwater pumping by 90 MGD, which, together with maintaining current conservation efforts, will reduce imported water consumed in southern LA County by nearly 50 percent.

The Bay Delta is a fragile system of levees that could collapse at any time. Imported water also requires a substantial amount of electrical energy consumption to be pumped over the Tehachapi Mountains.

We learned from the Colorado River Basin Tree-Ring Survey, which studied over 1,000 years of rainfall amounts in that basin, that there are periods of time when drought can last a century.

These mega-droughts are historically possible and likely to reoccur in the future. That study was a wake-up call for all local water genericdrugcenter.com that we’ve got to take care of our local groundwater supplies. The state should look at what it did in the Water Replenishment District Act that enabled our creation, and assist in the creation of replenishment districts throughout the state to provide a source of funding for creating local recycled water and conservation for aquifer replenishment.