President’s Message—Building on Legislative Success

We are enthused with the legislation success of the past year. The bottling of reused water initiative was impressive.

The enactment of AB 2022 (Gordon- D-Menlo Park), which now allows the bottling of advanced purified water for demonstration purposes, is a great accomplishment. The Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) and the Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) are the first in the Western Hemisphere to have done so. Together, we are starting a robust outreach campaign—water bottles in handwithin the state of California to take the messages about the quality, reliability and taste of reused water straight to the people and to our representatives in Sacramento. We will be highlighting the environmental benefits of reused water—reducing the amount of wastewater sent to the ocean, reusing a precious resource and savings of energy to produce a local water source, as well. This will help to increase acceptance of future water reuse projects and possibly influence legislation toward allowing direct potable reuse—the introduction of advanced-purified reused water directly into a public water system. 

Building on last year’s success, this year’s legislative platform includes support of state legislation to provide 100 percent credit for Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) water during a drought declaration, allocations and/or mandatory restrictions. In addition, coalitions will continue to be built with other water agencies and entities to gain state and federal funding for the final expansion of the GWRS to save money for our retail agencies and their customers. 

An additional key priority in the 2017 legislative platform includes gaining grant funding to clean up shallow contaminants in the groundwater basin near the cities of Fullerton, Anaheim, Placentia, Tustin, Santa Ana, and Irvine.

With President Donald Trump’s administration stating its goals of investing $1 trillion in new infrastructure, the District and our legislative consultants will support bringing some of those funds home to help fund OCWD’s Capital Improvement Projects (CIP), including water recycling and desalination.  In addition, we will work to secure grants from any emerging federal infrastructure legislation. 

Through the federal-state partnership of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF), we will be pursuing low-interest loans that are key to funding OCWD’s CIP projects, and we will advocate to maintain or expand existing federal appropriations and to update the CWSRF formula to reflect equitable allocation to California. 

As always, proactive outreach will continue in 2017 with legislators, state board members, key staff to the governor, and legislative committees to ensure that they are informed about issues and opportunities that are critical and create high-quality and reliable water for Orange County, and about the vital role OCWD continues to play in groundwater management and water reuse for the region.

Denis R. Bilodeau, P.E.