In the News

May 21, 2015

State: Farms Must Stop Pumping from San Joaquin River Watershed

SACRAMENTO (KRON) — State regulators are ordering farmers to stop pumping from the San Joaquin River watershed for the first time in memory. The mandatory order for rights holders will be the first in California since the 1970’s. They will be the first in memory to the senior water-rights holders along the San Joaquin River. Read More...



May 20, 2015

Fluoride Level to Drop Slightly in SMWD Water

The regional agency that supplies drinking water to Santa Margarita Water District announced this week it will slightly reduce the amount of fluoride in its water effective June 1. Read More...



May 13, 2015

Santa Margarita Water District Directors Approve Comprehensive Plan to Reduce Water Use in Response to State Order

Santa Margarita Water District Directors on Monday approved a comprehensive plan to meet the state’s mandatory 24 percent reduction in water use.  The plan includes new recycled-water systems construction, outreach efforts to help customers convert to more efficient irrigation and plumbing systems and even sending representatives door-to-door to stress the importance of using less water. Read More...



April 23, 2015

SMWD Readies for New Water Source

Residents may notice increased water flow in Oso Creek and San Diego Creek this week, as workers shut down a main supply pipeline to install a connection point for a new water source in South Orange County. Read More...



April 21, 2015

Santa Margarita Water Expresses Confidence in Tiered Rates

Santa Margarita Water District (SMWD) officials on Monday expressed confidence in its rate structure after an appellate court panel ruled that the City of San Juan Capistrano’s tiered rates were in violation of the state Constitution. Read More...



April 4, 2015

NY Times: California Drought Tests History of Growth

For more than a century, California has been the state where people flocked for a better life — 164,000 square miles of mountains, farmland and coastline, shimmering with ambition and dreams, money and beauty. It was the cutting­edge symbol of possibility: Hollywood, Silicon Valley, aerospace, agriculture and vineyards. But now a punishing drought — and the unprecedented measures the state announced last week to compel people to reduce water consumption — is forcing a reconsideration of whether the aspiration of untrammeled growth that has for so long been this state’s driving engine has run against the limits of nature. The 25 percent cut in water consumption ordered by Gov. Jerry Brown raises fundamental questions about what life in California will be like in the years ahead, and even whether this state faces the prospect of people leaving for wetter climates — assuming, as Mr. Brown and other state leaders do, that this marks a permanent change in the climate, rather than a particularly severe cyclical drought. Read More...



April 2, 2015

Governor Brown Orders Reductions in Water Use

For the first time in state history, the Governor has directed the State Water Resources Control Board to implement mandatory water reductions in cities and towns across California to reduce water usage by 25 percent. This savings amounts to approximately 1.5 million acre-feet of water over the next nine months, or nearly as much as is currently in Lake Oroville. Read More...



March 17, 2015

State Senator: Drought is the "New Normal"

“It’s time to stop thinking about the drought as an aberration, and time to start using it as a basic planning model,” said state Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, a leader on Delta water issues. “Drought is the new normal.” Read More...



March 5, 2015

Santa Margarita Water District Partner Cadiz Creates Tortoise Conservation Bank

The Fenner Conservation Bank is the largest-ever land bank approved for the protection of the desert tortoise by CDFW, the public agency responsible for coordinating California’s land conservation banking program. Read More...



March 5, 2015

Santa Margarita Water District Directors Approve Rate Adjustment

The approval moves SMWD toward collecting 100 percent of its fixed costs – maintenance, operations and administration -- with its fixed charges while the per-unit cost of water decreases. The average residential customer’s bill will increase $2.55, from $69.01 to $71.56 when the new rates take effect March 10. Read More...



February 27, 2015

Santa Margarita Water District Director Kicks Off Drought Response Workshop

California and local water leaders met in Irvine to discuss 2015 Water Supply Outlook, drought response actions, as California enters fourth year of rainfall and reservoir levels well below average. Read More...



February 26, 2015

Santa Margarita Water District Hosts Blood Drive in Honor of Red Cross Month

Those who give the gift of life at the SWMD blood drive for the Red Cross will receive discount tickets for an Anaheim Ducks game and a Los Angeles Kings game. Read More...



February 25, 2015

Is Drought the "New Normal" for California?

A new study shows global warming may be creating a new weather standard - for drought. Read More...



February 24, 2015

OC Register: Orange County Water District Turns Recycled Water into Drinking Water

The Orange County Water District plans a $143 million expansion of its program that turns waste water to drinking water. Read More...



January 8, 2015

SMWD Water Reclamation Plant Featured in OC Register Article

The OC Register toured the Santa Margarita Water District Chiquita Water Reclamation Plant to learn about the growing importance of recycled water in Orange County. Read More...



January 7, 2015

Microsoft's Bill Gates' Latest Passion Turns Waste to Water

The Janicki Omniprocessor turns sewer sludge into electricity, clean drinking water and ash. Read More...



January 5, 2015

SMWD Chief Engineer Featured in Televised OC Drought Panel

Santa Margarita Water District Board Chief Engineer Don Bunts participated recently on a panel with other OC water experts to discuss the drought and its impact on Orange County. Read More...



December 12, 2014

SMWD Director Olson Selected to Lead Board of Directors

The Santa Margarita Water District Board of Directors on Friday selected Dr. Betty Olson to serve as President for 2015. Dr. Olson has been a SMWD Director since 1994 and has served as President four times before. Read More...



December 2, 2014

SMWD Director Olson Appointed to Regional Water Board

Governor Brown on Monday appointed Santa Margarita Water District Director Dr. Betty Olson to the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board. Read More...



November 26, 2014

OC Register: SMWD establishes agency to oversee Cadiz groundwater project

A project that will pump drinking water from a Mojave Desert aquifer and pipe it to south Orange County has taken another step forward. Read More...



November 14, 2014

Bay Delta Conservation Plan Affordable for Water Contractor Funders, New Report Says

The cost of constructing the Bay Delta Conservation Plan – the water conveyance system proposed for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta – is affordable for the urban and agricultural water users who will pay a large share of the project, according to a new report released today. Read More...



October 22, 2014

Mission Viejo to waive fees for improvements that conserve water

The city will begin waiving permit fees for improvements that could save water in the midst of severe drought.
The City Council on Monday voted unanimously in favor of implementing Councilman Frank Ury’s proposal, intended to encourage homeowners and businesses to conserve water and raise awareness. Read More...



November 18, 2014

Santa Margarita Water Establishes Agency to Deliver
New Source of Drinking Water to Southern California

The Santa Margarita Water District Board of Directors on Friday cast the final vote necessary to establish the Fenner Valley Water Authority, which will control and operate the facilities necessary to deliver drinking water from the eastern Mojave Desert to Southern California customers as part of the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project. Read More...



October 7, 2014

Santa Margarita Water Customers Cut August Water Use Compared to 2013

Santa Margarita Water District customers used less water in August 2014 compared to the same month last year, despite temperatures that routinely reached into the 80s. The State Water Resources Control Board reported Tuesday that water use dropped across California. Read More...



October 3, 2014

Superior Court Signs Final Judgments in Cadiz Project Environmental Cases

Today Cadiz is pleased to announce the receipt of final signed judgments (“Judgments”) from Orange County Superior Court Judge Gail Andler formally denying all challenges to the environmental approvals of the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project (“Water Project”). Read More...



August 30, 2014

Watchdog: Water meter error: $8 million

With all this pressure to conserve water, pause to ponder the underpinnings: How exactly do the water lords measure how much is used? And, are they ever wrong? Read More...



August 7, 2014

California's severe drought unchanged despite record thunderstorms

A series of thunderstorms that have hit California in recent weeks may have delivered devastating torrents of rain in some areas, but on the whole they were "inconsequential" in terms of easing the state's worsening drought, according to a report issued Thursday. Read More...



August 1, 2014

Do lawns even belong in SoCal? Money, water saved by homeowners landscaping

Beckie Brown hated wasting water to keep the grass green, despised paying a gardener to mow and blow, just wanted to get rid of the turf. Read More...



July 21, 2014

Fines for brown lawns blocked by bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown

For Californians caught between a drought and a brown space, a newly signed bill could offer some relief.

Introduced amid a withering drought, Assembly Bill 2100 bars homeowners associations in common interest developments from fining residents who stop watering their lawns during drought emergencies. Gov. Jerry Brown declared such an emergency back in January and has signed AB 2100, his office announced Monday. Read More...



July 17, 2014

Latest Data Shows California Drought Gets More Extreme

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows that extreme drought has expanded in California. In the July 15 discussion of the national drought, the report shows that much of California is in either in extreme drought (81.85 percent) or exceptional drought (36.49 percent) and “May-September normally dry, there is not much more room for further deterioration, at least during the dry season.” Read More...



July 9, 2014

State Water Board Releases Draft Emergency Water Conservation Regulations

Stepping up its call to the public to increase water conservation during the state’s worsening drought, the State Water Resources Control Board this morning released proposed statewide emergency water conservation regulations that would restrict certain forms of outdoor water use and impose fines of up to $500 for violations. Read More...



April 1, 2014

Despite help from late-winter storms, California snowpack only 32 percent of normal

A string of late-winter storms was not sufficient to knock out the state’s three-year drought, leaving critical snowpack levels in the Sierra Nevada two-thirds below normal and predictions of a “gloomy” summer for farmers and many urban communities, state water managers said Tuesday. Read More...



March 31, 2014

California Snowpack Measure Could Reveal Future of Drought

Surveyors will ski into the Sierra Nevada mountains Tuesday to perform what has become an anxiously watched rite of spring in drought-stricken California: measuring snow to determine how much water will flow to the state this year. Read More...



March 26, 2014

Poll: Water bond gaining, drought concerns grow

SACRAMENTO — Voters are far more likely to approve a water bond on the November ballot if lawmakers shrink its size, according to a new survey that also found nine out of every 10 Californians say they have taken steps to conserve as the drought drags on. Read More...



March 7, 2014

Editorial: State drier than we have to be

Despite the recent heavy rain, California’s water situation remains dire. Data from the U.S. Drought Monitor, a partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, shows that 100 percent of California is “abnormally dry.” Read More...



March 1, 2014

Jerry Brown signs drought relief package

With drought conditions still challenging California, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a $687 million relief package Saturday, including money for infrastructure improvements, emergency water shortages and aid to farmworkers. Read More...



February 27, 2014

DROUGHT: No good news in Sierra snow survey

The first of a two-storm system boosted the vital Sierra Nevada snowpack slightly, but it’s nowhere near enough to end the drought, state water officials warned Thursday, Feb. 27. Read More...



February 19, 2014

Officials fast-track $687.4 million drought-relief package

Gov. Jerry Brown and top Democrats unveiled a $687.4 million emergency drought-relief proposal Wednesday to help residents struggling with record-dry conditions as well as to fund badly needed updates to the state’s water infrastructure. Read More...



February 14, 2014

Obama pledges help for drought-stricken California

President Barack Obama will pledge on Friday to speed federal assistance to help California recover from a crippling drought that is threatening the critical agriculture industry in the No. 1 farm state. Read More...



February 11, 2014

O.C. rises to drought's challenge; president coming to talk relief

President Barack Obama will visit California this week to discuss the state’s drought emergency – a topic driving federal legislative debates, an unprecedented halt in water allocations and a push for voluntary cutbacks. Read More...



January 30, 2014

California snowpack hits record low

Underscoring the severity of a statewide drought, snowpack measurements hit a record low as Gov. Jerry Brown meets with water leaders. Read More...



January 17, 2014

Gov. Jerry Brown declares drought emergency in California

Amid California’s driest year on record, Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday officially declared a drought emergency in the state. Read More...



January 13, 2014

California drought: What's causing it?

As California struggles through a run of historically dry weather, most residents are looking at falling reservoir levels, dusty air and thirsty lawns. Read More...



January 13, 2014

State comes to Fresno with $25 billion Bay Delta Conservation Plan

After seven years of work, the plan to fix California's biggest water problem is 34,000 pages long -- roughly 24 times the size of "War and Peace." Read More...



January 5, 2014

Colorado River Drought Forces a Painful Reckoning for States

The sinuous Colorado River and its slew of man-made reservoirs from the Rockies to southern Arizona are being sapped by 14 years of drought nearly unrivaled in 1,250 years. Read More...



December 29, 2013

Drought brings water rationing orders

December is usually not the time of year to discuss water rationing. But this holiday month has been so dry that mandatory water conservation orders are beginning to sweep across the Sacramento region. Read More...



December 9, 2013

Delta water tunnel plan presents California with tough choices

A new future for the troubled Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta was laid out for public review Monday in 34,000 sprawling pages of analysis associated with two giant water-diversion tunnels proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown. Read More...



November 27, 2013

California water woes hit hard in driest year on record

To nurture his acres of pistachio trees, Tom Coleman has long relied on water from California's mountain-ringed reservoirs, fed by Sierra streams and water pumped from the massive Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Read More...



October 14, 2013

Another dry year could be bad news for California

Water managers Monday urged Californians to step up their conservation efforts, warning that many parts of the state could face water shortages next year if this winter proves to be another dry one. Read More...



October 8, 2013

California governor signs bills to tackle state's water crisis

California Governor Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed more than a dozen bills aimed at improving access to water in the state, where drought is common and tension is high over the competing needs of residents, agriculture and the environment. Read More...



October 1, 2013

Yosemite's largest ice mass is melting fast

Climate change is taking a visible toll on Yosemite National Park, where the largest ice mass in the park is in a death spiral, geologists say. Read More...



September 17, 2013

Hurley surf contest puts focus on global water problems

Jon Rose remembers a mother in Haiti who approached him about a week after he taught her how to use a water filter to clean her family's drinking water. Read More...



August 30, 2013

Scientists: Quake that would drain O.C. of water is inevitable

The next earthquake to strike near San Francisco could siphon the flow of drinking water to Orange County for years. Read More...



August 27, 2013

Yosemite fire threatens towns, S.F.'s reservoir

Firefighters battled fierce winds Monday as the raging fire near Yosemite National Park pushed forward on two fronts, threatening the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and at least three local towns. Read More...



August 16, 2013

Feds Slash Colorado River Release to Historic Lows

A "No Fishing" sign sits improbably along a dry desert road in Nevada. The largest man-made reservoir in the U.S., Lake Mead, once extended this far—but the watery destination of anglers and boaters has shrunk so much that the lakeshore now is about a half-mile away. Read More...



August 8, 2013

Low Water Levels Forcing Boats Out Of Folsom Lake

The people who dock their boats at Folsom Lake, about 25 miles east of Sacramento, keep track of how dry the reservoir is by how many steps it takes to get from the parking lot to the floating dock. Read More...



July 30, 2013

The drying of the West

John Wesley Powell, whose legendary descent of the Colorado River in 1869 brought the one-armed explorer fame and celebrity, worried about America's westward migration. Read More...



Click here to view an archive of earlier news items.

SMWD is currently closed

Contact Us

E-mail requests will be viewed between the hours of 8am-5pm M-F. Any e-mails sent after hours or on the weekend will be replied to during the next business day.

To use our LiveChat please check back during our normal operating hours of:

Monday - Friday
8:00am - 5:00pm

Or

Fill out the form to the right to send us an e-mail.