Municipal Water Disrict of Orange County
ISSUE 1, VOLUME 9, January 2015
Message to Our Readers

Happy New Year! Many people start the year off with some type of resolution: lose weight, exercise more, clean out the closets, the list goes on. The tricky part is finding a resolution that will result in long-term change - a resolution that is sustainable. Improving your water use efficiency is the perfect resolution for 2015! Not only are water saving changes easy to make, they're also easy to sustain with a little thought and creativity.

 

Most water used in Orange County goes toward watering our landscapes, which means there are still many opportunities to save water outdoors. Visit our water efficiency website, www.ocwatersmart.com, for California Friendly plant ideas, smart irrigation options, rebate information, and resources on how to turn your thirsty yard into a drought tolerant oasis.

 

2015 Water Supply Conditions

By Harvey De La Torre, MWDOC

As we begin the new year, we should look back and recognize that 2014 was a year of record high temperatures and unprecedented dry conditions. The record dry and hot months not only provided us with limited water supplies for the year, but also contributed to increased water demands. This caused a huge drawdown of both local and regional reservoirs, contributing to Governor's Brown drought declaration and the State Water Resource Control Board's call for further water use reduction measures.

 

Although we are still in the early months of 2015, we are making steady progress compared to last year. December storms raised Northern California's accumulated precipitation to 120% of normal to date, which has increased water levels in Lake Oroville by as much as 55% (from 900,000 AF to 1.4 million AF) and 310% in San Luis Reservoir (from 200,000 AF to 620,000 AF). However, even with these increases in California's key reservoirs, levels still remain below average. Oroville is only at 65% of normal to date and San Luis is at 61% of normal to date. In addition, the snowpack in the Northern Sierra is still below average.

The next three months will critical because nearly 60% of our annual precipitation occurs between the months of January through March. For the remaining winter months, NOAA is reporting an above average chance of rainfall for the State; but they are also forecasting warming temperatures. Meaning that although there will be a greater chance for rainfall this winter, warmer weather will result in less snowpack and more runoff into the ocean. This will impact DWR's allocation of the State Water Project, thus limiting the amount of imported we received from northern California this year. 


East Orange County Water District -

Transforming Customers into Champions 

By Lisa Ohlund, EOCWD    

On July 17, 2014 the State Water Resources Control Board enacted emergency drought regulations that asked Southern California customers to adhere to mandatory, voluntary cutbacks in their water use. "Mandatory, voluntary?" Is it any surprise our customers were confused? Our goal at the local level was to find a way to cut through the clutter and communicate clearly to our customers that water use efficiency was not a temporary drought tactic, but in fact the "new normal."

The East Orange County Water District Board of Directors requested that staff put together a menu of items to educate customers with the goal of not just requesting water reduction during the drought, but asking for long-term behavioral change. Here are a few items that are more non-traditional and unique to our agency:

* Water Budgets - We are preparing to launch our "H2Know" campaign to encourage customers to get to know and understand their water bills and water budgets. The campaign will feature a "spokesdrop" - a cartoon water drop "professor" with a mortar board on its head.

* Bills - If a customer is within their water budget, they get a smiley face with a "thumbs up" prominently placed on their bill; if they haven't met their budget, they get a "frowny" face with a "thumbs down."

* "Thank You for Saving Water" Signs - Customers that have reduced their annual water use by 20% or more are awarded a sign for their front yard that congratulates them on their achievement. We also mention them by name in a print advertisement we take out in the local newspaper.  

 

 

Huntington Beach is Saving Water!   

By Sylvia Franklin, City of Huntington Beach     

Huntington Beach residents have done a tremendous job participating in our Water Conservation programs. In 2014, Huntington Beach received 235 applications from residents and Homeowner's Associations for the Turf Removal Program. We went from one or two applications a week to the summer boom of 20 applicants a week! 

 
In 2014, Huntington Beach was the winner of the Wyland Foundation's National Mayor's Challenge for Water Conservation. Residents made honorary pledges online to conserve water. The City of Huntington Beach won the prize of the WaterSmart Software program as a pilot study for an online program for water conservation. 5,000 residents were given the opportunity to receive Home Water Reports on their water usage and how they compare to neighbors in their area. The reports also include rebate information, information on upcoming events, and ways to save water and money.

Recently, we hosted a Rainwater Harvesting Class. We had 50 people attend the one hour class. It was a sell out! 130 rain barrels were sold. In 2014 we hosted six classes. Residents were able to purchase the rain barrels for $85 and then receive a rebate from MWDOC for $75 for up to four barrels, making their final cost only $10 each. 

 

Full Article >> 

 

That's Not My Alarm Clock?  

By Kelly Hubbard, WEROC  

You wake up and at first can't figure out why you're awake. It's still pitch black outside. Slightly confused you suddenly realize that your bed... no, the whole house is starting to shake. As your whole world shakes a little harder and you feel the waves of energy from the earthquake moving you up and down, you suddenly realize this is going to be a big one.

Your phone starts to buzz with text messages, because staff is realizing how big this is... it's going to be an "all hands on deck" kind of response. Your staff is limited, but a plan starts to come together, and by daybreak your utility has completed a preliminary windshield survey. You know your agency is going to need help to be able to respond and recover.

It is 9:00 a.m. on May 21st and you just stepped into your Emergency Operations Center for a Disaster Exercise with WEROC, the County Operational Area and other partners throughout the County. What's your plan?   

 

Save the Date!*

OC Countywide Earthquake Exercise

May 21, 2015 from 9 am - 12 noon   

 

*Non-OC utilities should check with their local planning partnersregarding "Capstone California,"a Southern California earthquake exercise that will occur on May 13, 2015. Any interested members of the public should contact their city for information on ways to get involved in emergency preparedness and planning.

 


San Clemente Water Department Leads the Way on 'Team Hannah'    

Submitted by Andrew Kanzler, City of San Clemente      

Kevin Lussier and his team at the San Clemente Water Treatment Plant have been helping Lussier's niece, Hannah Higgins, get through her battle with cancer. Hannah, 4, was diagnosed in February with Wilm's cancer, which affects the kidneys. The cancer also had spread into her lungs. Throughout the year, she has been undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatments.   

 

Lussier's team at the water department then took it upon themselves to provide support for Hannah and her family. "We're a close-knit group, all of us are pretty family oriented," Lussier said. Originally, the goal was to raise enough money to provide Hannah with a ticket to Disneyland at the conclusion of the treatment. Once the fundraising got started, the workers ultimately put together almost $1,500, enough to provide a three-day vacation at a Disney hotel and entrance to both parks for the Higgins family.   


The team was also outfitted with T-
shirts reading "Team Hannah" to honor her fight. Photographs of the teams wearing the shirts were sent to her during her recovery, along with a poster board with well wishes to show her she was being supported. She is currently in remission and has no evidence of cancer. 
 

"Everyone has been a member of the "Team Hannah family," Lussier said. "Everyone's been so supportive. This wasn't something I reached out and asked for. They came to me."

-Copy excerpted from the San Clemente Times 
Calendar of Events

January 28 @ 8:30 am:
MWDOC/OCWD Joint Planning Committee Meeting

February 2 @ 8:30 am:
Planning & Operations


February 11 @ 8:30 am:
Administration & Finance Committee Meeting
 
February 17 @ 8:30 am:
Public Affairs & Legislation
Committee Meeting


February 18 @ 8:30 am:  
Board Meeting 
 
February 19 @ 8:30 am:  
Executive Committee Meeting
 
For information on MWDOC meetings and events, please click on the calendar icon, above.

Results of Previous Poll
Thanks for the great ideas!
In our November/December issue of eCurrents, we asked readers what they thought OC water agencies should be doing to further reduce water use. The responses we received ranged from preventing car washing with potable water to increasing water rates to creating a lottery to reward customers who've reduced their use by 20%! To view the complete list of responses, click here.

We loved reading through your suggestions, and we'll take them to heart when developing new programs and providing input on the State's drought restrictions. Thanks for all the great ideas!


Take this quick one-question survey...We'll share the results in our next issue of eCurrents. 

Upcoming Events

Register now for the Feb. 5 Water Policy Forum & Dinner feat. Dr. Lucy Jones!
 

Join hundreds of water leaders from throughout Southern California to network and learn about Dr. Jones' recent work studying the vulnerability of vital infrastructure within the City of Los Angeles. In identifying water systems as extremely vulnerable to earthquake damage, Dr. Jones developed a resiliency plan that outlines major changes needed to maintain the integrity of the water system during a major earthquake.

Online registration is currently available through the link below. Reserved tables are also available by contacting Tiffany Baca at (714) 593-5013. 

Register Now >> 
 

Save the Date! 

Mark your calendars: the 8th annual Orange County Water Summit will take place on Friday, May 15th at Disneyland's Grand Californian Resort & Hotel. This year's Summit is not to be missed with several top-notch speakers and out-of-the box presentations. Details and event invitations to follow...

Sponsorship opportunities are available by contacting Darcy Burke at (714) 593-5014.

O.C. Water Summit >> 

 
Announcements

Have you met our newest Metropolitan Director?

Last fall, MWDOC appointed Larry McKenney to serve as its fourth representative on the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California's Board of Directors. Director McKenney fills the seat previously held by former Metropolitan Chairman John V. Foley, who passed away last year.

Director McKenney has vast experience working in water, having previously served on the Moulton Niguel Water District's Board of Directors and having worked for both the County of Orange's Watershed & Coastal Resources Division and the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority, where he is currently employed.




Governor Reappoints Linda Ackerman

Last month, CA Governor Jerry Brown reappointed Linda Ackerman, one of MWDOC's four representatives on the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California Board of Directors, to a third term on the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board). Director Ackerman was first appointed to the Regional Board by former CA Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2010; she was later reappointed by Governor Brown in 2012.

Director Ackerman is honored to continue to serve on the Regional Board and looks forward to continuing to preserve our watersheds and water resources.



Municipal Water District of Orange County
Phone: (714) 963-3058 | Fax: (714) 964-9389 | mwdoc.com 

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