GWRS Receives CASA Award
The award-winning Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS), a joint project of the Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) and the Orange County Water District (OCWD), recently received the California Association of Sanitation Agencies (CASA) Achievement Award. The two agencies have partnered on water recycling projects for more than 40 years increasing water reliability in the region. Agency representatives along with consulting engineer firm Black & Veatch were on-hand to receive the award, which was presented at CASA’s 60th annual conference held on Thursday, August 20 in San Diego.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to recognize the exceptional efforts of our CASA members,” said Roberta Larson, CASA Executive Director. “They are the behind-the-scenes heroes of our state, working tirelessly to ensure clean, healthy water for Californians.
The award was received in the Outstanding Capital Project category, which recognizes an exemplary public wastewater capital project. Project requirements include a unique or innovative design, environmental component such as water footprint or carbon footprint reduction and public outreach and communication.
“The Orange County Sanitation District and the Orange County Water District are proud of their ongoing partnership that has brought revolutionary projects to the region,” stated John Nielsen, OCSD chair. “A safe and reliable water supply is fundamental to the ongoing success of Orange County and its economic sustainability. The Orange County Sanitation District annually treats 200 million gallons per day (MGD) of wastewater. The GWRS allows us to send less water to the ocean and brings us one step closer to OCSD’s goal of 100 percent recycling,” he added.
The GWRS purifies treated sewer water using a three-step advanced purification process that includes microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet light with hydrogen peroxide. The purified water protects the groundwater basin from saltwater intrusion, decreases the region’s dependence on imported water, and increases local drinking water supplies.
“Resource recovery that entails the capture and reuse of wastewater must be maximized in California to help sustain our water supplies,” stated Cathy Green, OCWD President. “In Southern California alone, 1.3 billion gallons of treated wastewater is discharged into the Pacific Ocean every day. Reusing just a fraction of that reliable source could make a significant dent in drought proofing the region.”
The first phase of the project came online in 2008. In 2009, Black & Veatch was selected as the consulting engineer for the GWRS Initial Expansion which was complete in June 2015. The GWRS produces 100 million gallons of high-quality water per day (MGD), enough water for 850,000 residents annually. OCSD and OCWD are currently working on a $2 million effluent reuse joint study that explores ways to expand the GWRS. The study will identify operational and treatment plant improvements to see how wastewater from OCSD’s Huntington Beach plant can best support the GWRS final expansion, which is expected to produce 130 MGD of purified water.
“Black & Veatch is proud to have worked with both OCSD and OCWD to deliver visionary projects such as the GWRS initial expansion,” said Cindy Wallis-Lage, President of Black & Veatch’s water business. “Water plays a critical role in maintaining sustainable communities, and California’s water supply issues have an impact on consumers around the world. This expansion project and the longstanding partnership to develop the GWRS are key examples of resilient and holistic water planning.”
OCSD and OCWD are tapping into every possible drop of water, setting an example for other agencies around the globe.