Awards

OCWD has received numerous awards for its service efforts and accomplishments. The District is known globally for innovation. It has also been recognized by local and international organizations for leadership and accomplishments in water quality and reliability, the environment, public affairs, and sound financial management.

The following awards are representative of the acclaim and recognition bestowed on OCWD from 2003 and onward.

2017

  • AVA Digital 2017 Gold Award

    OCWD was honored with the AVA Digital 2017 Gold Award for its PowerPoint titled “Water Manufacturing Process.” It is the foundational presentation used prior to Groundwater Replenishment System tours and a key component of OCWD’s on-site tours and Speaker’s Bureau program for the community. AVA Digital Awards is an international competition that recognizes outstanding work by creative professionals involved in the concept, direction, design and production of media that is part of the evolution of digital communication. (January 2017)

  • Public Communications Achievement (Honorable Mention)

    The Orange County Water District received an Honorable Mention for 2016 Public Communications Achievement from the American Water Works Association (AWWA) for fostering and supporting the development of public outreach programs and integrating public affairs as a core element of utility planning and management. (January 2017)

  • ASCE Outstanding Water Project Award

    The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) presented the Outstanding Water Project Award for La Palma Water Recharge Basin to the Orange County Water District. (February 2017)

  • 2017 OCEC Engineering Project Achievement Award

    The Orange County Engineering Council (OCEC) selected La Palma Groundwater Recharge Basin project to receive the 2017 OCEC Engineering Project Achievement Award. (February 2017)

2016

  • UV Engineering Project of the Year

    The Orange County Water District received the UV Engineering Project of the Year Award from the International Ultraviolet Association (IUVA). The presentation was made at the 2016 IUVA World Congress held in Vancouver, BC. This award recognizes an exemplary engineering project involving UV applications in operation. Each nominated engineering project was reviewed for development of UV research and technology and honored for innovation, excellence, and its impact on society. (February 2016)

  • Electrical Excellence Award

    The Groundwater Replenishment System was awarded the Electrical Excellence Award by the Orange County Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA). NECA advances the electrical contracting industry through advocacy, education, research, and standards development. (February 2016)

  • Membrane Facility of the Year

    The Orange County Water District’s Groundwater Replenishment System Initial Expansion was presented the "Membrane Facility of the Year" award by the American Membrane Technology Association and the American Water Works Association. The award recognizes an outstanding water/wastewater facility that uses any membrane technology with high efficiency in an environmentally friendly approach. (February 2016)

  • Engineering Achievement Award

    The Groundwater Replenishment System Initial Expansion received an Engineering Achievement Award from the Orange County Engineering Council (OCEC). The presentation was made February 27, 2016 at the OCEC Annual Honors and Awards Banquet, celebrated this year in Anaheim, Calif. OCEC is an umbrella organization of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). (February 2016)

  • Water/Wastewater Treatment Project of the Year

    The Groundwater Replenishment System Initial Expansion was awarded the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Orange County Branch's "Water/Wastewater Treatment Project of the Year" award. ASCE Orange County Branch (OCB) is part of a global civil engineering community.  The OCB has about 2,500 members in Orange County, California and is currently the fourth largest branch within ASCE. (March 2016)

  • Partners in Excellence Award

    OCWD was awarded the Partners in Excellence Award from the Disneyland Resort at the 2016 Children's Water Education Festival. The award was presented by Disneyland Resort Environmental Affairs to recognize the District’s 20-year partnership and commitment to engaging Orange County youth in environmental education. (March 2016)

  • Water Reuse Project of the Year Distinction Award

    The Orange County Water District was the recipient of the Global Water Intelligence Water Reuse Project of the Year Distinction Award for significant advancement in terms of water reuse for the Groundwater Replenishment System Initial Expansion. The award was presented at the 2016 Global Water Summit. (April 2016)

  • 2016 Excellence in Environmental Engineering and Science Award

    The American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists (AAEES) honored the Groundwater Replenishment System Initial Expansion with the 2016 Excellence in Environmental Engineering and Science Award in the Design category. (April 2016)

  • Large Agency of the Year

    The Orange County Water District (OCWD) was awarded the California Large Agency of the Year award by the WateReuse Association for its collaboration with the Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) on the Groundwater Replenishment System Initial Expansion. OCWD received the award for successfully advancing the development of alternative water supplies and developing a novel approach to meeting local water needs. (June 2016)

  • Outstanding Membrane Plant Award - Large Facility

    OCWD's Groundwater Replenishment System received the 2016 Outstanding Membrane Plant Award - Large Facility from the Southwest Membrane Operators Association. The award was presented in recognition of outstanding plant operations and maintenance, and exemplary membrane treatment plant performance. (June 2016)

  • APEX 2016 Award for Publication Excellence

    The Orange County Water District's website received an APEX Award for Publication Excellence. The award recognizes excellence in publishing by professional communicators in a variety of mediums. OCWD launched its redesigned website in October 2015. (June 2016)

  • Exceptional Utility Leader in Water Reuse and Conservation

    The Orange County Water District was awarded the Exceptional Utility Leader in Water Reuse and Conservation from the International Desalination Association (IDA). OCWD was recognized for its leadership and innovation in advancing water reuse. The award was presented at the IDA International Conference on Water Reuse and Recycling in Nice, France. (September 2016)

  • Water Environment Federation Project Excellence Award

    The Groundwater Replenishment System Initial Expansion was awarded the Project Excellence Award from the Water Environment Federation (WEF). The award recognizes outstanding programs and product execution in the water sector. The award was presented during WEF's 2016 Technical Exhibition and Conference. (September 2016)

  • 2016 Cool Planet Award

    Southern California Edison (SCE) and The Climate Change Registry honored OCWD with the 2016 Cool Planet Award. This annual award recognizes the valuable contribution of SCE business customers who demonstrate exemplary leadership in energy and carbon management within their business size and industry sector. (October 2016)

  • MarCom Gold Award

    The Orange County Water District received the Gold Award in the Video/Audio category by MarCom Awards. OCWD was recognized for its 40 minute animated PowerPoint presentation titled "Water Manufacturing Process," which is used to begin each Groundwater Replenishment System tour. (October 2016)

  • Sandor C. Csallany Institutional Award

    OCWD was selected as the recipient of the Sandor C. Csallany Institutional Award for Exemplary Contributions to Water Resources Management 2016 Medal. The award is presented by the American Water Resources Association to a water resources institution that has achieved a status of eminence in some aspect of water resources management. (November 2016)

2015

  • Savings by Design

    The Orange County Water District was awarded a $500,000 "Savings by Design" grant by Southern California Edison (SCE) for the energy-saving strategies incorporated into the design of the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) initial expansion, which came online in 2015.

  • Water & Wastewater International magazine’s Top 25 Industry Leaders

    OCWD General Manager Mike Markus was named one of Water & Wastewater International magazine’s Top 25 Industry Leaders. According to the magazine, he "helped OCWD pave the way for public acceptance of water recycling for indirect potable use, replicated in countries such as Australia and Singapore. Under his leadership, GWRS won 21 awards, including the Stockholm 2008 Industry Award and Lee Kuan Yew Prize 2014.”

  • Outstanding Capital Project

    The California Association of Sanitary Agencies recognized the Orange County Water District and Orange County Sanitation District's Groundwater Replenishment System Initial Expansion as the Outstanding Capital Project of the year. (August 2015)

2014

  • U.S. Water Prize

    The Orange County Water District and Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) were honored with the U.S. Water Prize by the U.S. Water Alliance for their joint project, the Groundwater Replenishment System and were lauded as global leaders in reclamation and reuse. (April 2014)

    See video

  • Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize

    The Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize, an international water award, was presented to OCWD for its pioneering work in groundwater management and water reclamation using advanced water reuse technologies, as well as for its achievements in public policy and community outreach. (June 2014)

  • CALAFCO Government Leadership Award

    OCWD shared the California Association of Local Agency Formation Commissions (CALAFCO) Government Leadership Award with the City of Anaheim, the Irvine Ranch Water District and Yorba Linda Water District for manifesting characteristics of effective leadership through the successful completion of a major annexation into OCWD. (October 2014)

2013

  • Distinguished Service Awards

    Southwest Membrane Operators Association (SWMOA) recognized OCWD and OCWD Principal Process Engineer & GWRS Program Manager, Mehul Patel, P.E., with a Distinguished Service Award. Patel received the award for five years of service on the SWMOA Board of Directors and for allowing OCWD staff to participate and contribute to the goals and mission of the Association. (April 2013)

  • Environmental Communications Award

    Orange County Water District received the Environmental Communications Honor Award from the American Academy of Environmental Engineers & Scientists (AAEES) for OCWD’s Groundwater Replenishment System outreach campaign. (June 2013)

  • Major Civil Engineering Project of the Century Award

    Orange County Water and Orange County Sanitation districts’ joint project, the Groundwater Replenishment System, was honored with the Major Civil Engineering Project of the Century Award by the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (Fédération Internationale des Ingénieurs-Conseils; FIDIC). (October 2013)

2012

  • Membrane Facility of the Year

    American Water Works Association (AWWA) and American Membrane Technology Association (AMTA) recognized the GWRS with the Membrane Facility of the Year Award. (February 2012)

  • Recycled Water Staff Person of the Year

    WateReuse Association, California Section recognized OCWD Director of Water Production William (Bill) Dunivin with the 2012 Recycled Water Staff Person of the Year Award. (March 2012) 

  • Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting

    Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) recognized OCWD with the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting (CAFR) Program for superb financial accountability and reporting of its fiscal year that ended June 30, 2011. The CAFR Program is GFOA’s highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting. (June 2012)

  • Conservator of the Year

    Bolsa Chica Conservancy recognized OCWD with the 2012 Conservator of the Year Award for its leadership in environmental conservation in groundwater quality, reliability and sustainability, and for its commitment and dedication to conservation through its highly acclaimed GWRS and many other programs. (December 2012)

2011

  • $1 million water sustainability grant

    The California Department of Water Resources awarded Orange County Water District a $1 million water sustainability grant for its 30 million gallon per day (MGD) Groundwater Replenishment System initial expansion. (October 2011)

2010

  • Recovery Champion Award

    The United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFW) recognized OCWD’s Natural Resources Director Dr. Richard Zembal with the Service’s 2009 Recovery Champion Award, one of only 18 awarded nationally. The Recovery Champion Award recognizes USFW employees and their partners for contributions to the recovery of threatened and endangered species in the United States. (March 2010)

  • Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting

    The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) recognized OCWD with the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting (CAFR) Program for superb financial accountability and reporting of its fiscal year that ended June 30, 2009. The CAFR Program is GFOA’s highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting. (July 2010)

  • California Construction's Overall Top Project

    California Construction magazine recognized Orange County Water District Advanced Water Quality Assurance Laboratory, Fountain Valley (Submitted by FTR International) for Overall Top Project among Southern California winners of the magazine’s Best of 2010 awards program. (September 2010)

2009

  • PISCES Award

    OCWD was honored by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with the 2008 Performance and Innovation in the State Revolving Fund Creating Environmental Success (PISCES) Award in recognition of its innovative groundwater management practices, particularly the development of the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS). The PISCES Award recognizes organizations that demonstrate innovation, sound financial management, and commitment to water quality and sustainability. (January 2009)

  • American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) "Golden State" Award of Excellence

    American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) honored the Orange County Water and Orange County Sanitation districts’ GWRS with its “Golden State” Award of Excellence, the highest California award offered by ACEC. (February 2009)

  • Green California Leadership Award, Water Management

    Green California Summit & Exposition of Sacramento honored OCWD’s GWRS with the Green California Leadership Award, Water Management for its efforts at managing sparse water supplies in Southern California. The Green California Summit recognizes state and local agencies for innovative efforts to green the Golden State. (March 2009)

  • American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) Grand Conceptor Award

    The Orange County Water and Orange County Sanitation districts’ GWRS was awarded the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) Grand Conceptor Award signifying the year's best engineering achievement among the 168 national projects honored by the ACEC. (April 2009)

  • American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award

    The Orange County Water and Orange County Sanitation districts’ GWRS was honored with the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement (OCEA) award for its creative, effective solution to water shortage challenges through the creation of the GWRS. The most prestigious award given by the society, the OCEA is bestowed on the best national engineering project of the year. (April 2009)

  • UV Engineering Project of the Year Award

    The Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) was honored by the International Ultraviolet Association (IUVA) with the 2008 UV Engineering Project of the Year Award in recognition of its innovation and vision, and lasting impact it has had as an example of how to integrate ultraviolet advanced oxidation technology into a water reclamation process train. (September 2009)

  • Orange County Coastkeeper Coastal Protection Award

    The OCWD and OCSD received the Orange County Coastkeeper Coastal Protection Award for their water stewardship. Specifically, the award recognizes the agencies for their advances in protecting the water quality of the region’s waterways, wetlands and coast. In addition, the agencies were recognized for the new, state-of-the-art Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS). (September 2008)

  • Said Khoury Award for Engineering Construction Excellence

    A team of engineers affiliated with Orange County’s Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS), the world’s largest water recycling facility of its kind, were honored with the 2009 Said Khoury Award for Engineering Construction Excellence. The award recognizes an engineer or team of engineers for their noteworthy contribution to the development, planning, construction and implementation of drinking water, water management, water storage or water treatment infrastructure. The engineers recognized were OCWD Director Denis Bilodeau, P.E.; OCWD General Manager Mike Markus, P.E.; OCSD Director of Engineering Jim Herberg; and Richard Corneille, P.E., from CDM. (November 2009)

  • Savings By Design

    Orange County Water District (OCWD) was recognized by Southern California Edison with an incentive check totaling $64,719 for energy-saving strategies that were incorporated into the design of its new Advanced Water Quality Assurance Laboratory. The Southern California Edison “Savings By Design” incentive program is available to businesses in Southern California that incorporate smart, energy-saving designs in long-term facility planning for new structures. (December 2009)

2008

  • Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) Resolution

    OCWD was recognized with a Resolution, presented by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD), commending the District for its GWRS, (February 2008)

  • Orange County Engineering Council Engineering Project of the Year

    The Engineering Project of the Year award was presented by the Orange County Engineering Council to OCWD for its GWRS. (February 2008)

  • American Society of Civil Engineers, Orange County Branch, Project of the Year

    The Project of the Year award was given by the American Society of Civil Engineers, Orange County Branch to OCWD in recognition of the GWRS. (February 2008)

  • WateReuse Association, California Section Large Agency of the Year

    The Large Agency of the Year award was presented by the WateReuse Association, California Section to OCWD for its contributions in water reuse. (March 2008)

  • City of Huntington Beach Commendation for Environmental Achievement

    OCWD received the City of Huntington Beach Commendation for Environmental Achievement in recognition of the GWRS from the Orange County League of Conservation Voters. (April 2008)

  • State of California Senate Special Recognition for Environmental Achievement

    OCWD received a Special Recognition for Environmental Achievement for the GWRS from the California State Senate, sponsored by Senator Tom Harman (May 2008)

  • Global Water Intelligence Award of Distinction, Water Project of the Year

    OCWD received the Award of Distinction, Water Project of the Year, presented by Global Water Intelligence for GWRS. (April 2008)

  • Global Water Intelligence Public Agency of the Year

    OCWD received the Global Water Intelligence Public Agency of the Year award for leading the way in communicating the importance of water reuse to the public, for the management of its groundwater supply and for the completion of the GWRS—one of the biggest indirect potable reuse projects in the world.(April 2008)

  • Orange County League of Conservation Voters Special Recognition for Environmental Excellence Award

    A Special Recognition for Environmental Excellence was presented by the Orange County League of Conservation Voters to the District and OCSD for the GWRS (May 2008)

  • Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) Clair A. Hill Award

    The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) presented the Clair A. Hill Water Agency Award to OCWD. The award recognizes innovative programs by ACWA members in water resources management. The District is the first agency to receive this prestigious award more than once. The District previously received the Clair A. Hill for the Children's Water Education Festival. (May 2008)

  • United States Congressional Recognition for Environmental Achievement

    OCWD received United States Congressional Recognition for Environmental Achievement, presented by the U.S. House of Representatives for the GWRS. The award was sponsored by Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-CA). (May 2008)

  • Stockholm 2008 Industry Water Award

    The District received the Stockholm 2008 Industry Water Award for pioneering work to develop the Groundwater Replenishment System, presented to the Orange County Water District and Orange County Sanitation District (June 2008)

  • International Water Association (IWA) Honor Award, Design Projects

    OCWD received the International Water Association (IWA) Honor Award in the category of Design Projects. This global recognition is part of the IWA Project Innovation Program for Excellence in Innovative Water Engineering. (July 2008)

  • Southern California Edison Savings By Design Award

    The Orange County Water District and Orange County Sanitation District were recognized with six Southern California Edison Savings By Design Awards totaling $421,432 for energy-saving strategies that were incorporated into the design of the Groundwater Replenishment System. (February 2008)

  • California Special Districts Association (CSDA) Board President of the Year

    The California Special Districts Association co-awarded its Board President of the Year to two presidents: OCSD Board Chair Doug Davert and OCWD Board President Steve Sheldon because of the agencies’ partnership constructing the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS). It was the first time CSDA recognized two presidents in the same year for the award. The award recognizes the agencies and their Board leadership for the collaborative effort and leadership required to jointly construct the GWRS. (September 2008)

  • Groundwater Resources Association of California (GRA) 2008 Kevin J. Neese Award

    The Orange County Water District was honored by the Groundwater Resources Association of California (GRA) with the 2008 Kevin J. Neese Award in recognition of its innovative groundwater management operations, particularly the development of the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS). The Neese Award recognizes significant accomplishments by a person or entity that fosters the understanding, development, protection or management of groundwater. (September 2008)

  • Toshiba Green Innovation Award

    The Orange County Water District and Orange County Sanitation District were named winners of the Toshiba Green Innovation Award for the Groundwater Replenishment System and their commitment to the environment. The Toshiba Green Innovation Award recognizes environmental innovation by Orange County-based companies, institutions and organizations for their “green” products, services, technologies, processes or activities. (October 2008)

  • EPA Water Efficiency Award

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded the Orange County Water District with the prestigious Water Efficiency Award in recognition of the District’s world leadership in wastewater purification for groundwater replenishment (GWRS). The award is given for technical success, especially for a 10-year+ effort to educate the public. (December 2008)

2007

  • President’s Special Recognition Award

    The Association of California Water Agencies Joint Powers Insurance Authority honored OCWD with the President’s Special Recognition Award for its good job of keeping its staff safe, resulting in minimal worker compensation claims. (February 2007)

  • Public Relations Society of America, Orange County Chapter (OCPRSA) Protos Award

    OCWD received the Protos Award from the Orange County Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America for "Editorial Article for a Trade Publication." The article was written for "Pollution Engineering" magazine about the GWRS. (June 2007)

  • Public Relations Society of America, Orange County Chapter (OCPRSA) Award of Excellence

    OCWD received the Award of Excellence from the Orange County Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America for multicultural outreach for the GWRS education and outreach campaign. (June 2007)

  • American Membrane Technology Association (AMTA) Outstanding Member Award

    OCWD and its process engineer, Mehul Patel, received the honor of “outstanding member” from the American Membrane Technology Association in recognition of Patel’s contribution to water supply improvement for his work on the GWRS and for his leadership as president of the Southwest Membrane Operator Association. (July 2007)

2006

  • FEMA $2,852,606 million grant

    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) awarded a $2,852,606 million grant to the Orange County Water District to assist in repairing and restoring the Prado Wetlands behind Prado Dam. (January 2006)

  • ACWA/JPIA recognition

    The Association of California Water Agencies Joint Powers Insurance Authority (ACWA/JPIA) recognized OCWD for achieving a low ratio of paid claims and reserves to its deposit premium for the period 07/01/02 to 06/30/05. That means for a district of its size, it is doing a good job of keeping its staff safe, resulting in minimal worker compensation claims. (February 2006)

  • Client of the Year Award

    OCWD received the “Client of the Year" award from the Orange County Chapter of the Consulting Engineers and Land Surveyors of California (CELSOC) (May 2006)

  • Silver Anvil Award

    OCWD, OCSD and Porter Novelli received the Silver Anvil Award, the nation’s highest PR award from the Public Relations Society of America for Excellence in Community Relations/Government for the GWRS Community Outreach Program. (June 2006)

  • Protos Award

    OCWD received a Protos Award from the Orange County Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America for the Groundwater Replenishment System Speakers Bureau. (June 2006)

  • California Historic Civil Engineering Landmark Award

    The District was awarded the California Historic Civil Engineering Landmark award for conserving surface flows of the Santa Ana River and managing the groundwater basin in central and northern Orange County since 1933. The District was also acknowledged for its leadership in the development of visionary water reuse projects, such as the Water Factory 21 project and the Groundwater Replenishment System. (September 2006)

  • Project of the Year Award

    The 2006 Project of the Year Award in the water/wastewater category was awarded to the Orange County Water District (District) and Irvine Ranch Water District (IRWD) for the Irvine Desalter Project (IDP) by the American Public Works Association (APWA). (December 2006)

2005

  • AWWA Public Communications Achievement Award

    Award recognized OCWD and staff for the Groundwater Replenishment System Outreach Program.

  • California/Nevada WateReuse Association 2004 Recycled Water Public Education program of the Year

    Award recognized OCWD and OCSD for the GWRS Community Outreach Program (February 2005).

2004

  • 2004 MarCom Platinum Award

    Award recognized OCWD and OCSD for the GWRS Community Outreach Program.

  • National WateReuse Association 2004 Public Education Program of the Year

  • Leadership Tomorrow 2004 Excellence in Community Leadership Award

2003

  • Public Relations Society of America, Orange County Chapter PROTOS Award

    Award recognized OCWD and Porter Novelli for the GWRS Community Relations Program.

  • SAWPA 2003 Drought-Proofing Award