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May 25, 2024 11:01PM
May 25, 2024 23:01PM

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Santiago County Water District


Established in 1962, the Santiago County Water District was located in northeast Orange County, east of the cities of Orange and Tustin. The District covered an area of 29,450 acres with land ranging from the foothills around Irvine Lake to mountainous canyons in the Cleveland National Forest.

For a number of years, the SCWD area was geographically remote from surrounding development and the majority of the District’s population was, and remained, concentrated in Silverado, Williams, and Modjeska Canyons. By 2006, SCWD served potable water to approximately 2,500 customers with 740 domestic water connections delivering up to 500 acre-feet of water annually. Urban growth and development in areas of Irvine, Trabuco Canyon, Robinson Ranch, and the City of Orange gradually extended towards the SCWD service area making it less remote and putting it into closer contact with adjacent water districts.

Like other water agencies in Orange County that originally served predominantly rural areas, SCWD’s operating costs user rates tended to be high due to both its remoteness and its relatively small customer base. SCWD’s Board of Directors, knowing that operating costs would almost certainly continue to increase in the future, decided to explore options whereby SCWD might consolidate with another water district and through that consolidation provide a more cost-efficient and reliable water service to its existing and future customers.

In 2005 the SCWD Board initiated a process to evaluate their future options as a district and a special subcommittee, the President’s Advisory Board, was formed to take up this issue. This subcommittee was made up of approximately forty SCWD customers. Over an approximate twelve month period that included numerous public meetings and discussions with other water districts adjacent to SCWD, the SCWD Board of Directors and the President’s Advisory Board rigorously evaluated all future water delivery options and, in early 2006, the alternatives available to SCWD were put to a vote of its customers. By an overwhelming margin, consolidation with IRWD was selected as the best option to meet future water service in SCWD.

In July 2006, the consolidation of IRWD and SCWD was complete. The consolidation reduced operating costs and allowed for a significant reduction in SCWD rates and charges. It also provided a more diverse and reliable water supply to the SCWD service area, greater operational flexibility and reliability, and enhanced emergency preparedness.  

For over forty years, the SCWD provided reliable water service to a remote and bucolic area of Orange County. The decision by its Board of Directors to take the steps necessary to serve the best interests of their customers in a changing world was no easy matter and they are to be commended for their foresight, vision, and planning to achieve that goal.

For more on IRWD Consolidations