Sustain OC, one of Orange County’s leading sustainability-focused non-profits, is honoring Moulton Niguel Water District for its efforts to protect local creeks, streams and beaches from pollution caused by urban runoff.

At its 2017 Conference and Expo, Sustain OC recognized Moulton Niguel for the district’s programs to mitigate urban runoff, the additional water that eventually reaches local beaches due to over-watering.

“When you overwater your lawn, that wasted water flows from your driveway through the storm drain and into local creeks and waterways,” explains Drew Atwater, director of planning at Moulton Niguel Water District. “Eventually, urban runoff reaches the ocean, but not before collecting pollution, contaminants and debris – all of which reduce the water quality at Orange County beaches.”

Sustain OC: Moulton Niguel Continues to Lead the Way

Over the last two years, Moulton Niguel has worked with the County of Orange, CodeLab OC, and the California Data Collaborative to develop a spatial mapping application, which matches household water use with each neighborhood’s urban runoff. Dubbed the “Urban Drool Tool,” the application is helping identify areas that would benefit most from water efficiency programs.

“We commend Moulton Niguel’s innovation in developing cost-effective solutions for the region,” said SustainOC President & CEO Scott Kitcher. “Through their leadership in initiatives such as the California Data Collaborative, Moulton Niguel continues to lead the way in using data-driven tools to address sustainability issues.”

With the “Urban Drool Tool,” Moulton Niguel hopes to improve local watershed management and target water conservation efforts where it’s needed the most through regional collaboration.

Above and Beyond Typical Water Agency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that as much as 50 percent of water used for irrigation is wasted either through evaporation or overwatering. That means higher bills for water customers and more pollution at local beaches.

The problem persists because water agencies, which supply the water to customers, are not typically responsible for the regulatory costs associated with mitigating dry weather runoff. Moulton Niguel has been working to change that — by filling the gaps, supplying the water use data and in partnership with Orange County Public Works, identifying the local streams and beaches at greatest risk.

Last year, Moulton Niguel began working with OC Public Works to perform a comprehensive dry weather flow analysis of approximately 80 stormdrain outfalls that had been identified through a dry weather outfall monitoring program. The analysis included a review of more than 400 stormdrain outfalls.

In advance of the 2017 Sustain OC Conference and Expo, an independent panel of judges with an understanding of sustainability initiatives reviewed efforts by local organizations, agencies and companies to engage in environmentally responsible practices. Other honorees at the October 19th event, include:

  • 2017 Cleantech Company of the Year: Iteris, Inc.
  • 2017 Sustainable Government of the Year: City of Irvine
  • 2017 Van Vlahakis Sustainability Excellence Award: Disneyland Resort