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Home / drought

OC grand jury recommends JPA to solve drought crisis locally

Orange County should establish a joint powers authority to seek a new drought-resistant source of water, the Orange County grand jury recommended in a report released Friday.

“The Orange County grand jury recommends the creation of a ‘Climate Resiliency District’ to lessen the county’s dependence on state and regional water projects,” the grand jury said in its report. “Just as Orange County supported Measure M and created the Orange County Transportation Authority to solve the county’s transportation crisis, the same bold leadership is needed to solve the county’s water crisis.”

The grand jury said that despite a rainy winter the state’s drought crisis continues as climate change worsens.

“Climatologists predict future extended periods of low moisture with occasional wet years,” the grand jury found in the report. “Climate change is inevitable and is exacerbated by human behavior.”

More than the north side of the county, south Orange County “relies primarily on the importation of water,” the grand jury found.

“Local water suppliers recognize that enhanced stormwater capture and storage, wastewater recycling, and infrastructure improvements will not be sufficient to address the long-term forecast of drought and its effects on supply,” the grand jury found.

The grand jury also found that while there’s “significant water infrastructure planning,” there’s also “inadequate implementation.”

The grand jury found that the review and approval process for major water capital projects is “cumbersome and overly restrictive.”

The grand jury also touted the importance of heightened outreach and public education on the issue.

The grand jury also pushed for more desalination plants.

“Orange County water agencies should expedite the planning, development, and construction of desalination plans over the next five years to insure a sustainable and reliable drought-resistant source of water,” the grand jury recommended.

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