In 2015, to ensure that the District looked at all possible options to bring recycled water into our service area, the District’s Board of Directors designated $150,000 to conduct a comprehensive study.
The Recycled Water Feasibility Study asked the question: "Is there a reasonable cost alternative available to our imported and groundwater supply that would justify having a recycled water system within the District's service area?"
The Study identified that there is only 188 acre-feet per year of water demand within the District that could be met with recycled water, which amounts to only 5 percent of all of the water used within the City.
Based on the amount of supply needed to meet demand, the Study evaluated 10 primary recycled /non-potable and potable reuse alternatives and concluded that the recycled water alternatives would cost 3 to 11 times more than the District’s current cost of imported water and 6 to 22 times more than the cost of our groundwater supply. Currently, LBCWD’s water supply is two-thirds groundwater and one-third imported water.
The potential of securing grant money for the limited amount of recycled water that could be developed and used in Laguna (mostly City Parks) at such a tremendous cost would be very unlikely, in addition to the fact that it would do very little for long term sustainability. In short, a poor use of public fund due to:
- Limited irrigation demand
- High costs to construct
- Lack of economies of scale
- Challenging geography
Meaningful solutions require a great deal of forethought and hard work. In 2016, the District signed an agreement with Orange County Water District to re-establish its groundwater rights in the Santa Ana Basin. In the past, the District has been dependent on imported water from the Colorado River and Northern California. For the first time since the 1940's, the District is receiving close to two-thirds of its supply from groundwater, providing District customers with a local, reliable water supply. Rather than having a 10-day supply in the event of an emergency, the District now has a 3 month supply. And, because Orange County Water District’s Groundwater Replenishment System treats wastewater that is then discharged into the groundwater basin, our District receives a portion of this recycled water that is continually treated and re-introduced into the groundwater basin. This is a solution that provides real sustainability.