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Residents advised to limit water use

The county is asking people to conserve water this week during a treatment plant closure.

March 29, 2007|By Amanda Pennington

Orange County residents are being urged to conserve water this week as the county faces a severe shortage due to the temporary closure of a Yorba Linda water treatment plant.

The Robert B. Diemer Water Treatment Plant is undergoing a $155-million improvement plan and is scheduled to be closed for the next two to four days.

But already on day three of the closure, the Metropolitan Water District is reporting that residents did not heed earlier warnings that they should conserve, which could cause major problems for some South County cities that import their water from treatment plants.

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"It is super important for people to conserve. . . . Some of the bigger agencies down there [in South County] actually shut down [commercial] irrigation sites, but they're still seeing quite a bit of water being used on irrigation," interim assistant general manager of Mesa Consolidated Water District Coleen Monteleone said. "They shut down commercial users, but the residential users still haven't cut back as much as they should."

Although Costa Mesa and a few small areas in Newport Beach served by Mesa's groundwater would not necessarily be as affected by a shortage due to the treatment plant's closure, residents there should still be vigilant. While Mesa Consolidated gets 75% of its water from wells, the remainder is imported. Because wells too close to the ocean would have too much sea water intrusion, many areas of Newport Beach are served by outside water treatment plants.

Areas in South Orange County and Yorba Linda are having the most problems due to the plant's closure and are working on provisions to make sure their water lasts through the rest of the closure, Monteleone said.

"This is a universal message by the water agencies — this plant in Orange County is down, and everybody needs to do their own part," Monteleone said.

This has been one of the driest seasons in Southern California, with John Wayne Airport reporting 1.89 inches of rain since the start of the season, July 1. Since the beginning of the year, Newport-Mesa has received less than an inch, according to the National Weather Service.

This puts the area almost 10 inches below normal. Last year at the same time, John Wayne Airport reported a little morethan five inches of rain.

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