January 2017

OCWD Board Members


Denis R. Bilodeau, P.E.

First Vice President

Philip L. Anthony

Second Vice President

Shawn Dewane

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

General Manager

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

In This Issue:

• President’s Message — Meeting the Challenges Ahead

• Children’s Water Education Festival Seeks Sponsors, Presenters and Volunteers

• Refilling the Orange County Groundwater Basin - Inch by Inch

• Registration Opens for 10th Annual OC Water Summit 

• Is Direct Potable Reuse in California’s Future?

• The GWRS Celebrates 9th Anniversary

• Feb. 2 is World Wetlands Day

• Out in the Community

• OCWD in the News

• OCWD Employees
  —Employee of the Quarter
  —Thirty-five Honored with Service Awards

• Upcoming Events

• December Tours

President’s Message—Meeting the Challenges Ahead

For nearly 17 years, it has been my pleasure to be a member of the Orange County Water District Board of Directors.  This is my second appointment as president, having previously served from 2002 to 2004.  I appreciate the Board’s vote of confidence to serve as its president again for the coming year.

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome back my colleagues who were recently reelected to serve on the board: Directors Philip Anthony, Shawn Dewane, Cathy Green, and Roger Yoh; and Director Vicente Sarmiento, newly appointed to the board to represent the city of Santa Ana. Director Sarmiento previously served on the OCWD board from January 2014 to February 2015.

I also wish to express our gratitude to Roman Reyna for his service to the board as Santa Ana’s representative from 2015 through 2016 and to Jordan Brandman, who served as an appointee of the city of Anaheim from 2015 through 2016.

In addition, I would like to welcome new board member James Vanderbilt who was recently appointed by the city of Anaheim. Read More…

Denis R. Bilodeau, P.E.

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Children’s Water Education Festival Seeks Sponsors, Presenters & Volunteers

Would you like a unique opportunity to help 7,500 third, fourth and fifth grade Orange County students enrich their knowledge of and protect water and other natural resources?

You are invited to be a sponsor, a presenter and/or a volunteer at the 21st Annual Children's Water Education Festival to be held at the University of California, Irvine on March 29-30.

Since its inception, the Festival has inspired and engaged more than 115,000 Orange County elementary school students towards careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM.)

Due to increased demand, the Festival will host 500 more children this year, but it needs your help to accommodate them. Read More...

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Refilling the Orange County Groundwater Basin - Inch by Inch

Since July 2016, the start of the Orange County Water District’s (OCWD; the District) “water year,” north and central Orange County has received a total of 10.0 inches of rain.  Storm events from December 15 through January 16 alone brought in 7.9 inches.  Rather than big flashes of heavy rain, slow and steady rainstorms, spaced out by one to two weeks are optimal, since this allows temporary capture of stormwater behind Prado Dam in Riverside County and subsequent release of the captured stormwater to flow down the Santa Ana River and be diverted into groundwater recharge basins in Orange County, owned and managed by OCWD.

A key component to capturing stormwater is OCWD’s close collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE; the Corps), which operates Prado Dam for flood risk management and conservation. Read More…

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Registration Opens for 10th Annual OC Water Summit

Registration is open for the 10th annual OC Water Summit, which takes place on June 16 at the beautiful Grand Californian Hotel at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim on June 16.

This year’s OC Water Summit theme “Finding Water” will examine the local water portfolio and what it will need to sustain population growth, trade and commerce through cyclical droughts.  

The day-long event features KNBC weathercaster Fritz Coleman, who will emcee the OC Summit, and renowned speakers that include David Sedlak, co-director of Berkeley Water Center and director of Institute for Environmental Science and Engineering; Helene Schneider, mayor of Santa Barbara; and David Stoldt, general manager, Monterey Peninsula Water Management District. They and other speakers will discuss the many options in a water portfolio such as desalination and potable reuse.

Each year, the OC Water Summit draws more than 400 national and state policy makers, elected officials, scientists, financial experts and business leaders. The event is hosted by the Orange County Water District, the Municipal Water District of Orange County and the Disneyland Resort. Look for additional information and speakers in upcoming issues of Hydrospectives or visit OCWaterSummit.com.

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Is Direct Potable Reuse in California’s Future?

The State Water Resources Control Board delivered a report to the California State Legislature on Dec. 30 that concludes that it is feasible to develop and adopt regulations for using recycled water as drinking water, provided that certain research and key knowledge gaps are addressed.

The report refers to direct potable reuse (DPR) as a new source of potable water. DPR is the introduction of recycled water directly in a drinking water system or in a raw water supply upstream of a drinking water treatment plant. No state has, until now, developed regulations specifically for DPR. Read More… 

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The GWRS Celebrates 9th Anniversary

This year, the GWRS celebrates its ninth anniversary. Since coming online, the project has produced more than 208 billion gallons of ultra-pure water. Today, the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) provides enough water to cater to the needs of 850,000 people and is the largest facility of its kind in the world.

A great measure of the project’s success is proactive agency partnerships. The Orange County Water District and Orange County Sanitation District collaborated for more than seven years on the GWRS and the project has been a huge achievement, saving a vital resource; protecting the groundwater basin from saltwater contamination; reducing the amount of wastewater discharged to the ocean; postponing, perhaps indefinitely, the need to construct or expand OCSD’s outfall; and replenishing the groundwater basin. Read More…

Photo: Dedication of the initial expansion in 2015 with a toast of GWRS product water

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Feb. 2 is World Wetlands Day

This year marks the 56th anniversary of World Wetlands Day, Feb. 2, which calls attention to their value and status. Wetlands are areas of soil that are covered by water and may support both plant and animal communities.

According to the Ramsar Convention that established World Wetlands Day, “Wetlands are indispensable for the countless benefits or ‘ecosystem services’ that they provide humanity, ranging from freshwater supply, food and building materials, and biodiversity, to flood control, groundwater recharge, and climate change mitigation.” 

The Orange County Water District owns 2,150 acres behind Prado Dam in Riverside County where it operates the Prado Wetlands, the largest constructed wetlands on the west coast of the United States. Read More…

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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 December:

•  OCWD General Manager Mike Markus was on the Sustainable Water Initiative for Tomorrow Expert Panel at the Virginia Coastal Policy Center Annual Conference.

 •  Director of Special Projects Bill Hunt gave an overview of the important Orange County groundwater quality areas of focus and gave a GWRS tour to the Groundwater Convening of the Los Angeles Environmental Justice Network.

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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:

Capital Public Radio: Some Californians Can Drink What The Astronauts Drink: Recycled Wastewater by Amy Quinton

EnvironmentGuru.com: American Water Resources honors OC Water District with Sandor C. Csallany Institutional Award

KQED: Nation’s Largest Water Recycling Plant Expanding in Orange County by David Gorn

The Huffington Post: Water Challenges Are Actually Opportunities by Gina McCarthy


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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 Quarter—John Pham

John Pham, network administrator in the Information Services (IS) department, has consistently demonstrated a willingness to help District and IS staff. He has performed outstanding work in upgrading the District email system to the new “Microsoft Exchange Online” cloud email system. This was a major project to migrate all District emails to the new system and John was key to the success of that project. The task of transferring emails took place after hours, and on the weekends. John worked tirelessly for more than three weeks ensuring all District email accounts successfully migrated to the new email system. During the week after the system went live, John went above and beyond to ensure that staff could access the new email in the cloud from their computers. John is a team player and is always easy and pleasant to work with. His hard work is highly appreciated and commended. Congratulations John!

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New Hires


Congratulations to our three recent retirees from OCWD who, together, gave 80 years of service. 





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Thirty-five Honored with Service Awards

At the core of OCWD’s success is recruiting and retaining a talented workforce. This year, 35 of its 218 employees celebrated work milestones for a combined 515 years of service. To see a list of employee recipients, Read More…

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Upcoming Events

January 24: 8:00 a.m. Retirement Committee Meeting (C-2)

January 25: 8:30 a.m. Municipal Water District of OC/OCWD Joint Planning Meeting (MWDOC 101)

January 27: noon Property Management Committee Meeting (C-2)

February 1 : 5:30 p.m. Board of Directors Meeting (Boardroom)

February 2: 8:00 a.m. Communications/Legislation Meeting (C-2)

February 8: 8:00 a.m. Water Issues Committee Meeting (C-2)

February 9: 8:00 a.m. Admin Finance Committee Meeting (C-2)

February 15: 5:30 p.m. Board of Directors Meeting (Boardroom)

February 20: HOLIDAY

February 24: 12:00 p.m. Property Management Committee Meeting (C-2)

February 28: 8:00 a.m. Retirement Committee Meeting (C-2)

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December Tours

 December Public Tour

Thank you to the 200 guests who toured OCWD’s facilities in December:

Students from Pomona College and Los Angles Technical Trade School; students from the Cal State Long Beach and West Coast University nursing programs; members of the Los Angeles Environmental Justice Network, Del Amo Action Committee, District of Columbia Water & Sewer Authority, Pacific Asset Management, and China Office of the International Water Association; Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel; members of WE & RF 16-01 Utility Workshop and Hydranautics; 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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                                    Fountain Valley, CA 92708

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