OC Toilet-to-Tap Plan Wins Funding in Omnibus Package

Included in the land- and water-conserving Omnibus Public Land Management Act signed into law today by President Obama is a bill providing $6 million in federal funding to help finance future phases of the Orange County Groundwater Replenishment Project--a.k.a. the "toilet to tap plan." 

The project takes sewage water, cleans it well beyond public-health standards and then infuses it into central Orange County's groundwater aquifers, where it will remain until being drawn up and further filtered before human consumption. It is expected to add 72,000 acre-feet of new water per year. Many U.S. states and foreign countries facing diminished water supplies have sent representatives here to study the system.

Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) successfully got the $6 mil added to the act signed by Obama after a similar attempt in 2007 failed to make it out of a Senate committee.

"I applaud President Obama's swift decision to sign the Omnibus Public Land Management Act into law today," Sanchez said in a statement issued by her congressional staff. "I was especially proud to secure an additional $6 million in authorized funding in this bill that will be used to help Orange County complete all phases of its innovative groundwater replenishment system, making our drinking water and ultimately the health of our communities safer."

Speaker Nancy Pelosi also praised the "landmark" legislation's "numerous water-related provisions that will help manage drought, particularly in the West, improve aging infrastructure, recharge groundwater supplies, and promote the reuse and recycling of water."

But there were also the familiar complaints of "earmarks" being included in the law. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) called it "a catch-all legislative package that contained more than 160 different public land, water and resource bills!" (The exclamation point is his.)

Kyl goes on to describe five of those bills--the ones he authored or co-sponsored.


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