Where Does Our Water Come From?

How clean drinking water gets to your faucet is a testament to one of the most complex engineering marvels of the modern age.  Customers of the Moulton Niguel Water District receive all of their drinking water from one of two sources, hundreds of miles from where it is delivered to you at your house or business: either from the Rocky Mountains or from the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  Both systems required the sophisticated engineering of aqueducts, reservoirs, pump stations, and treatment plants to ensure water is available on demand through mountains and across deserts.

The Colorado River Aqueduct is 242 miles long. It was constructed in 1939 and played a critical role in the economic development of Southern California in the mid 20th century.  Over the past 16 years, demand for water has outpaced supply from the Colorado Watershed.  Lake Mead, a critical reservoir for Southern California, is presently at the lowest level on record since it was filled.

The other major supply of water travels over 700 miles from the Sierra Nevada Mountains through the State Water Project.  It was built in 1960 and is one of the few manmade structures that can be seen from space.  Due to environmental concerns and reduced snowpack, water supply through the aqueduct has been reduced over the past seven years.  A major initiative to increase reliability of this critical system is underway in the California Water Fix to create both an engineered solution for water delivery in the delta and habitat restoration as part of an environmental mitigation for endangered species.

Currently, all water delivered to our customers from both the State Water Project and the Colorado River Aqueduct is treated at Metropolitan Water District’s Deimer Water Treatment facility.  Due to the potential risk to the area’s water supply in the event of an earthquake or natural disaster, the District’s Board of Directors took prudent actions to invest more than $70 million in regional projects to increase local reliability.  The District worked closely with our regional partners to develop emergency storage, emergency connections, and additional water treatment facilities. These investments, along with local demand management efforts by our customers, provide the District reliability in the event of an interruption to any of these water sources.  Additionally, the District is always looking at other opportunities to reduce dependence on imported water supplies through expanding our recycled water program or other local project investments.

Overall, tens of billions of dollars have been invested to create and maintain this intricate system of infrastructure to supply reliable clean water.  So the next time you reach for a glass of water or irrigate your landscape, take time to reflect on the modern marvel providing that precious resource on demand.  Our customers have done an outstanding job being more efficient as the drought continues and we encourage your continued vigilance in reducing water waste.

Remember, it’s not about using less, it’s about wasting less!