“The water crisis is real,” said Renae Hinchey, general manager of the Laguna Beach County Water District, which services customers north of Nyes Place and in Emerald Bay.
Recent rainfall is a drop in the bucket needed to alleviate the long-term reduction in water supplied to Southern California by allotments from the Colorado River or from Northern California, via the Metropolitan Water District.
For the immediate future, the Laguna Beach district has asked its customers to voluntarily cut water use by 20 gallons a day. But future demands require reducing the city’s reliance on imported water.
“We need to find ways to diversify our water supply — a mix of sources, “ Hinchey said.
Possible water sources include ground water recovery, desalinization and recycled water projects.
“We’re proceeding with a study of the Laguna Canyon watershed to determine how much ground water is there,” Hinchey said.
A 1977 study indicated the district could siphon 200 acre feet of canyon water per year. The Laguna Beach district provides about 4,400 acre feet annually to its customers.
An acre foot equals 350,000 gallons, which is enough to supply water for two families of four for a year.
The new study will look at water quality, extraction, treatment, storage, and conveyance costs; as well as environmental issues.
However, Laguna’s backyard is the best bet for a long-term, sustainable source of water supplies, district officials said.
“The future is right out there — it’s the ocean, the largest reservoir around,” said Mike Dunbar, general manager of the South Coast Water District, which serves Laguna Beach residents from Nyes Place to the city’s southern boundary, and communities beyond that.
“We’re working on it,” Dunbar said. “Your community is driving it.”
Mayor Pro Tem Cheryl Kinsman said the city is ready to cooperate and the two districts are working in concert.