Officials from various water-related entities highlighted some of the problems associated with the historic drought that is plaguing much of the western U.S.—as well as some solutions to address it—at Engineering News-Record’s second annual Western Water Conference.

Speaking in Huntington Beach, Calif., on Nov. 14, John Kennedy, executive director of engineering and water resources for the Orange County Water District, and Shivaji Deshmukh, assistant general manager at the West Basin Municipal Water District, discussed how their agencies are working to incorporate reuse into their systems. Kennedy said Orange County is contemplating expanding its 100-million-gallon-a-day groundwater replenishment program, a form of indirect potable reuse, by another 30 mgd in the next few years.

Tim Shaheen, chief financial officer at Cadiz Inc., described a controversial public-private partnership between his company and six local water districts that would provide an additional water source to 400,000 California residents.

The project, if built, would capture approximately 50,000 acre-ft of groundwater annually from a well field in Cadiz-owned land, near California’s eastern Mojave Desert, and convey the water through a new pipeline to the Colorado River Aqueduct. Although the project has survived several legal challenges and successfully gone through the California Environmental Quality Act process, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in October issued guidance that may require the firm to seek a new permit.

Shaheen said Cadiz is working to persuade BLM to reverse its decision. “We’re ready” to begin, he said.

Jim Ogsbury, executive director of the Western Governors Association, noted that governors throughout the western U.S. have become active in exchanging and sharing information about how to address the drought. “Drought is not just a California problem. It’s a serious problem throughout the West,” he said.