Jim Kutzle/Orange County Water District
The Orange County Water District's Groundwater Replenishment System in Fountain Valley takes treated sewage wastewater from the sanitation plant next door and purifies it into 70 million gallons of drinking water a day. The water is piped to a recharge basin in Anaheim where it percolates into a 350 square mile aquifer.
Southern California is home to numerous aquifers, underground lakes holding billions of gallons of water.
Local water managers see these aquifers as a hedge against future supply disruptions if the current drought turns out to be more trend than aberration. Problem is many of these aquifers are polluted, and in many cases, it’s unclear who has the right to use the water.
KPCC environment reporter Molly Peterson lays out the challenges facing water managers when it comes to these underground lakes and the options they have to make them a bigger part of the region’s water supply.