Los Angeles Water Reliability Project Receives Local Support
The Orange County Water District (OCWD; The District) and Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) board of directors voted to adopt a joint resolution to provide support to advance the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) and the Los Angeles County Sanitation District’s (LACSD) proposed water reuse project slated to bring 150 million gallons a day (MGD) of high‐quality water to Southern California.
Leading the way in water reuse, OCWD and OCSD have partnered on water recycling projects for more than 40 years. In 2008, they implemented the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS), the world’s largest indirect potable reuse project of its kind that currently produces 100 MGD, enough water for 850,000 people annually. OCWD and OCSD have extensive expertise in permitting, designing, constructing, and operating the GWRS, which will serve MWD and LACSD well as they develop a project of their own.
“In Southern California alone, 1.3 billion gallons of treated wastewater is discharged to the ocean every day,” said OCWD President Cathy Green. “Projects like the GWRS tap into this precious water supply, which is especially important during drought. We are very supportive of the Los Angeles project and as leaders in water reuse and groundwater management it is our responsibility to help bring projects like this online to create increased water reliability for the region. Over the next 10 years, OCWD has committed to purchasing 650,000 acre‐feet of water from MWD and some of it may end up coming from this very project,” she added.
“Today, the GWRS purifies all of the wastewater from the sanitation district’s Plant 1 in Fountain Valley and we’re working towards meeting a 100 percent recycling goal,” said OCSD Chair John Nielsen. “In fact, OCSD and OCWD are conducting a joint feasibility study to explore the possibility of using flows from OCSD’s Plant 2 in Huntington Beach, which might require additional infrastructure and/or treatment. We’re hoping the study’s findings will support a recommendation to implement a final expansion of the GWRS that would increase total water production to 130 MGD,” he added.
This study affirms OCWD’s commitment to maximizing every drop of reclaimable water. The success of the GWRS has been tremendous and a wealth of data has been collected as the plant has been in operation for eight years and planning and research occurred several years prior to its startup. OCWD and OCSD are prepared to work collaboratively with MWD and LACSD to share data and lessons learned, and to provide a variety of support—from technical and operational to public engagement and education.
Hailed as a global model for water recycling, visitors from around the globe annually tour the GWRS to learn about the project and taste the acclaimed water. Representatives from cities, states and countries have met with staff to learn from the GWRS blueprint to create water sustainability in their communities that foster economic viability and protect public health.
The GWRS has garnered more than 40 awards including the prestigious international 2014 Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize and the 2008 Stockholm Industry Water Award. It has also been featured on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” National Geographic, CNN and many other prominent news outlets.
The GWRS initially produced 70 million gallons of water a day and by 2015, the project was expanded to produce a total of 100 MGD. The project takes highly-treated wastewater and purifies it through a three‐step process that includes microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet light with hydrogen peroxide, resulting in near‐distilled quality water. A portion of this water is injected into a seawater barrier with the remainder being pumped to OCWD’s recharge basins where it percolates into the groundwater basin and becomes a primary source of drinking water for 2.4 million people in north and central Orange County.
GWRS water has greatly increased local water supplies and water quality. Prior to the project’s startup, groundwater pumping was restricted to 62 percent of total water demands. Today, while other communities are grappling with significant shortages due to the four‐year drought, the GWRS has helped increase groundwater pumping in the Orange County Groundwater Basin to 75 percent.