April 2017

OCWD Board Members


Denis R. Bilodeau, P.E.

First Vice President

 Philip L. Anthony

Second Vice President

Shawn Dewane 

Cathy Green
Dina L. Nguyen, ESQ.
Vicente Sarmiento
Stephen R. Sheldon
James Vanderbilt
Bruce Whitaker
Roger C. Yoh, P.E.

General Manager

Michael R. Markus
P.E., D.WRE.

In This Issue:

President’s Message—The Drought is Officially Over

California’s most recent drought earned Orange County and a good portion of the state “exceptional” drought status. These areas witnessed widespread crop and pasture loss, widespread water shortages and restrictions, and shortages of water in reservoirs, streams and wells that created water emergencies.

On April 7, 2017, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. ended the drought state of emergency in most of California, including Orange County, following a robust winter rain and snow. We know that droughts are cyclical in California, so it’s no wonder that the Governor added, "This drought emergency is over, but the next drought could be around the corner. Conservation must remain a way of life." 

The drought spanned water years (Oct. 1 through Sept. 30) of 2012 through 2016.  Of those, 2012 through 2015 were the driest four-years on record statewide. The smallest snowpack in the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Range of mountains was recorded in 2015 at 5 percent of average. And 2014, 2015 and 2016 were, in that order, the state’s first, second and third warmest years in terms of statewide average temperatures.

There were rumblings and some anticipation of a feared “mega drought” lasting more than 10 years.

Here in Orange County, we are still in a moderate drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Read More…

Denis R. Bilodeau, P.E.



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Compensation Programs Reap Large Reimbursement

California Water Agencies/Joint Powers Insurance Authority (ACWA/JPIA) Chief Executive Officer Andy Sells (far right)  and ACWA/JPIA Executive Committee member Melanie McDonald (holding check at center) presented the OCWD Board with a Retrospective Premium Adjustment (RPA) check for $102,585, a reimbursement of premiums paid on liability, property and workers’ compensation insurance through ACWA/JPIA. The ACWA/JPIA is refunding monies from the Rate Stabilization Fund.  A good safety record contributes to these monies being returned to members when they exceed -50 percent of the current year's Liability Basic Premium.  The JPIA’s Liability, Property, and Workers’ Compensation Programs are pooled programs and any excess amounts are returned to members. OCWD strives to create a safe and collaborative work environment for its employees.

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Festival Breaks Attendance Records

The award-winning Children’s Water Education Festival (CWEF) hosted more than 7,400 students in March, breaking all previous attendance records. The CWEF is one of several education programs created by the Orange County Water District   (OCWD; District).

Already the largest event of its kind in the nation, the two-day CWEF celebrated its 21st year and provided 72 interactive and inspiring activities about the environment for elementary school children in grades 3, 4 and 5.

“Children today will play a vital role in preserving our natural resources in the future,” said CWEF co-founder and Orange County Water District Board Member Philip Anthony. “The District Board felt it was important to provide funds to expand the program and accommodate even more Orange County children.” Read More…

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AAEES Honors the GWRS Final Expansion Feasibility Study

The Groundwater Replenishment System Final Expansion Feasibility Study has received a 2017 Environmental Sustainability Honor Award from the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists (AAEES).

The honor was announced at the April 13 AAEES Awards Luncheon and Conference in Washington, D.C.

The Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) Final Expansion Feasibility Study was prepared by the Orange County Water District (OCWD; District) and the Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) with Engineer in Charge Rob Thompson, P.E. Read More…

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Kevin Hardy Named NWRI Executive Director

Kevin Hardy has joined the National Water Research Institute (NWRI) as its new executive director. The nonprofit organization focuses on supporting innovative scientific research and activities to improve the quality of water supplies and increase available sources of water.

Hardy served seven years as general manager and 14 years as an executive of the Encina Wastewater Authority, a public agency that provides recycled water, resource recovery and wastewater treatment services in San Diego County, California. In addition, he was past president of both the California Association of Sanitation Agencies and the California Sanitation Risk Management Authority. Read More…

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OCWD Issues Vital Water Quality Data to Member Agencies

Every summer, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) requires community water systems to deliver a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) that provides information about local drinking water quality to their community. One of the first steps in the CCR process is for Orange County Water District Water Quality Department staff to complete and send out comprehensive packages of water quality data files for all groundwater monitoring conducted on behalf of the member agencies (producers) during the previous year.

During March, water quality files were prepared and sent to all 19 member large system groundwater producers and 10 small system groundwater producers to assist in preparing each system’s CCR. The CCR, also known as a water quality report, must be mailed to all water consumers by July 1. Read More…

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OC Water Summit Features Celebrated Speakers

New York Times best-selling author of “Let There Be Water” Seth Siegel has been added to the celebrated roster of presenters at the 10th annual OC Water Summit. As luncheon speaker, he will examine model water reliability practices and projects he has encountered during the course of his research to solve serious global water challenges.

This year’s Summit will take place on Friday, June 16 at the Grand Californian Hotel in the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim. Make your reservation now. NBC4 Weathercaster Fritz Coleman is master of ceremonies.

“Finding Water” is the title of this year’s program, which delves into essential new water supplies that could meet the needs of California through its recurring droughts and growing population and businesses. Read More…

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OCWD Goes to Washington

OCWD Directors Denis Bilodeau and Vicente Sarmiento, OCWD General Manager Mike Markus and Director of Public Affairs Eleanor Torres went to Washington, D.C. in March on a legislative trip to discuss the Prado Basin Feasibility Study, State Revolving Fund (SRF) program, Water Infrasturcture Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program, the GWRS Final Expansion, and updates of the groundwater cleanup efforts in the North and South Basin. These programs are crucial to OCWD’s ability to fund critical water infrastructure that is beneficial to a safe and reliable water supply in Orange County.

They met with Congressmen Luis (Lou) Correa (D-Santa Ana), Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa); Theodore A. Brown, chief of planning, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; John Glennon, majority legislative assistant, Senate  Committee on Environment and Public Works; Alexis Segal, legislative assistant to Senator Dianne Feinstein; Joe Sheehy, legislative director to Congresswoman Grace Napolitano; Ian Foley, appropriations legislative assistant to House Interior Appropriations for Congressman Ken Calvert; Kevin Chang, legislative assistant to Senator Kamala Harris; Alexander Lee, legislative assistant to Congresswoman Mimi Walters; and Jordan Dorfman, attorney advisor, WIFIA Division, Office of Water, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Read More…

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OCWD Helped to Dispel Water Reuse Myths for Earth Day

This year’s Earth Day on April 22 carried the theme of Environmental and Climate Literacy. According to Earth Day organizers, “Environmental and climate literacy is the engine not only for creating green voters and advancing environmental and climate laws and policies but also for accelerating green technologies and jobs.”

The Orange County Water District encourages environmental stewardship through several water conservation and engagement projects: The Children’s Water Education Festival, OC Water Summit, O.C. Water Hero Program, its website OCWD.com, facility tours and speakers bureau programs, the new H2O Learning Center at OCWD headquarters, and the GWRS Bottled Water Tour coming in May.

As a soft opening of the Tour, OCWD staff joined the Downtown Disney celebration of Earth Day, disseminating information about the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) and reused water as a source to supplement and protect the water Mother Nature provides. They provided samples of GWRS bottled water and a spin-the-wheel game for prizes as guests tested their water knowledge.

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U.S. Service Academy Night at OCWD

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher will hold a U.S. Service Academy Night on Friday, June 2 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Orange County Water District Boardroom.

Students, parents, guidance counselors and school officials are welcome to attend and learn about the Congressional Nomination Process and the five service academies: U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, and U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

For additional information or to RSVP, contact Constance Towers in Congressman Rohrabacher’s District Office at Constance.Towers@mail.house.gov or (714) 960-6483.

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Out in the Community

As part of its standard to forge and maintain long-term, positive and proactive relationships with members of the local community and greater water industry and to be transparent about its operations and programs, OCWD board members and staff speak regularly before groups and at events.  We participated in the following during March:

  • •  Director Philip Anthony and Executive Director of Engineering and Water Resources John Kennedy provided a presentation to the Water Advisory Committee of Orange County describing the current condition of the groundwater basin and the plans to purchase imported water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to refill the basin over the next two years.

  • •  Director Shawn Dewane was appointed to the Orange County Employees Retirement System (OCERS) Board of Retirement for a three-year term. OCERS is administered by the Board of Retirement, a group of 10 trustees.
  • •  At the World Bank Water Conference, General Manager Mike Markus presented on groundwater governance and water scarce cities. He also gave a briefing on the Orange County Water District to Fullerton City Council.
  • •  Executive Director of Engineering and Water Resources John Kennedy gave briefings about OCWD to the Fountain Valley City Council and to the Santa Ana City Council.
  • •  Executive Director of Planning and Natural Resources Greg Woodside participated on a panel discussion of California Long Term Efficiency Framework at the Association of California Cities-Orange County (ACC-OC). He also gave a presentation to the Orange County Water Association on the District’s activities in Prado Basin. In addition he participated on a panel focusing on changing infrastructure at the Wallace Stegner Center- 22nd Annual Symposium: Water in the West, Exploring Untapped Solutions.

Read More…

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OCWD in the News

OCWD continues to be recognized for its leadership in the water industry.  Below are a few of the District’s recent media highlights that feature OCWD and the GWRS:

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OCWD Employees

OCWD’s employees are its most valuable resources. It is committed to recruiting the best and enriching their lives to grow within the water industry and the District family.

Employee of the 1st Quarter 2017—Alexander Adams

Alex has been a laboratory technician since 2015 and has been providing great effort within the extraction group. He was a student intern in the organic section for two years and got hired as lab technician upon his graduation from the University of California, Irvine in 2015. Alex is a highly motivated employee and always willing to take on additional duties and projects. He has an excellent work ethic and contributes to the success of the laboratory.

During this quarter, Alex has been working very hard in providing extraction support for UCMR4 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Method 541 and 530. He pays strict attention to his work so he can provide excellent observations of what is occurring in the extraction procedure. His input helps the chemist troubleshoot any problem and find a way to improve the process. OCWD’s Advanced Water Quality Assurance Laboratory was successful in completing its application for EPA 541 before the March 5 deadline. Alex understands the goal of the District and always provides a high level of support. He always goes the extra mile to help his teammates whenever needed. Alex is a team player and a good role model for laboratory staff.

Congratulations Alex!

New Hire




Arturo Garcia
Grounds Maintenance






Congratulations to our two recent retirees from OCWD who, together, provided 49 years of service.


               Judy Rae Karlsen
        Assistant Board Secretary
                9/1999 – 4/2017




James Caver 
Senior Environmental Technician
 7/1986 – 4/2017


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Upcoming Events


May 3 : 5:30 p.m. Board of Directors Meeting (Boardroom)

May 4: 8:00 a.m. Communications/Legislative Affairs Committee Meeting (C-2)

May 17: 8:00 a.m. Water Issues Committee Meeting (Boardroom)

May 18: 8:00 a.m. Admin/Finance Committee Meeting (C-2)

May 23 : 8:00 a.m. Retirement Committee Meeting (C-2)

May 24: 8:30 a.m. OCWD/Municipal Water District of OC Joint Planning Meeting (MWDOC 101)

May 24: 5:30 p.m. Board of Directors Meeting (Boardroom)

May 26: noon Property Management Committee Meeting (C-2)

May 29: Holiday

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March Tours

Thank you to the more than 200 guests who toured OCWD’s facilities in March:

Cal State Fullerton health science and nursing, North Orange County Community College District, and San Clemente High School students; members of Emerging Leaders in Environmental and Energy Policy Network (ELEEP) and the Water Supply Management Agency of the Gyeonggi Provincial Government, Korea; attendees of the USGS Water Availability & Use Program national meeting; New York Times best-selling author Seth Siegel; and members of the general public.

Public tours of the Groundwater Replenishment System are offered at 10 a.m. on the first Friday of every month; reservations are required. Tours may be scheduled for other days of the week, depending on staff availability. To schedule a tour, request more information or schedule a speaker, please visit www.ocwd.com.

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