The Orange County Water District plans to enter into a historic agreement with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Orange County Water District (OCWD) plans to enter into a historic agreement with Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD), allowing MWD to store imported water - from the California Aqueduct and the Colorado River - in the Orange County ground water basin. By doing so, MWD will have another backup source of water in Southern California during dry years, and OCWD will be able to provide better quality water to recharge the ground water basin serving cities in north and central Orange County.

The agreement, which should be finalized by summer 2002, allows MWD to store up to 60,000 acre-feet of water in Orange County's ground water basin. When MWD needs the water, it can extract up to 20,000 acre-feet per year.

"I am pleased to announce OCWD has successfully completed negotiations with MWD for this long-term storage program," Jerry A. King, OCWD board president, said. "The program is a significant step forward in further improving the water reliability and quality in Orange County and the services provided to our producers."

The storage program provides additional benefits to the cities in the OCWD service area, allowing the cities to use the new wells as backup to their current systems in an emergency situation. In addition, the wells will become the property of the city when the agreement expires in 25 years.

The OCWD program must still be reviewed and approved by both agencies' boards in the form of a final agreement. Currently, both parties have agreed upon the principles of the agreement only.