November 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 — Thankful for our Aquifers

The natural disasters occurring over the past few months are sobering.  To see the devastation in Houston, South Florida, and the U.S. territories in the Caribbean, and the earthquake damage in Mexico calls each of us to reach out in any small way that we can to support those victims. Here, locally, we should also take this opportunity to be thankful for the natural blessing that is our underground water supply.

Fires, floods, wind, and earthquakes deliver a physical blow, producing injuries and deaths that are only the initial shock to the community.  Those substantial assaults also take their toll on the civic infrastructure that we all depend on for normal life, such as the electric grid, the sewer systems and, most importantly, the water supply. One can survive for a while without power, or fully functioning roads, but sanitation and contaminated water are much more urgent considerations.  These secondary impacts of the natural disasters oftentimes end up taking more lives than the initial assault.  

Water infrastructure is vulnerable in several ways.  Read More…

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Denis R. Bilodeau, P.E.




More than 140 Enjoy Groundwater Adventure Tour

Three busloads filled with attendees of the 2017 Groundwater Adventure Tour made their way to and from Orange County Water District (OCWD) facilities that included its headquarters in Fountain Valley, Anaheim recharge basins and the Prado Wetlands in Riverside County.

More than 140 participants started their morning with a presentation about OCWD and a tour through the celebrated Groundwater Replenishment System, then boarded the buses with stops at three basins, including La Palma Basin—the newest of the more than two dozen recharge basins located in Orange and Anaheim. Following lunch and an afternoon presentation about local water sources, the group traveled to OCWD’s Prado Wetlands, the largest constructed wetlands in Southern California, which helps to naturally purify water on its way to Orange County.

The yearly Groundwater Adventure Tour books early and next year’s event is tentatively planned for the month of October. Sign-up information appears a few months beforehand in this newsletter and on the website: Additional photos of the event can be found on the OCWD Facebook page.

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Sierra Club Honors OCWD Director Philip Anthony

The California Sierra Club Political Action Committee presented Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) Director Philip L. Anthony with the California Taking the Lead Political Leadership Award. The award honored four environmental heroes from Democratic and Republican political parties who have worked and voted consistently to protect the environment in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

The award ceremony took place during the PAC’s fundraiser at the Huntington Beach Senior Center. OCWD’s General Manager Mike Markus was in attendance and accepted the award on Director Anthony’s behalf.

“I am honored to receive this award and I would like to express my sincere gratitude for the recognition,” said Director Anthony. “I’m a long-time resident of Orange County and have been active in both political and civic leadership for as long as I can remember. It’s been a true pleasure to serve the people of Orange County and I look forward to my continued service,” he added. Read More…

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Director Cathy Green Named Chair of ACWA Regional Board 

OCWD Director Cathy Green was recently elected Chair of the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) Region 10 Board for the 2018-2019 term. Her term starts Jan. 1, 2018. 

She joins vice chair DeAna Verbeke, Helix Water District (San Diego County); and board members Richard L. Vasquez, Vista Irrigation District (San Diego County); James B. Murtland, Rincon del Diablo MWD (San Diego County); Jim Atkinson, Mesa Water District (Orange County); and Charles T. Gibson, Santa Margarita Water District (Orange County).

The Association of California Water Agencies is the largest statewide coalition of public water agencies in the country. Its 430 public agency members collectively are responsible for 90 percent of the water delivered to cities, farms and businesses in California.

ACWA’s mission is to assist its members in promoting the development, management and reasonable beneficial use of good quality water at the lowest practical cost in an environmentally balanced manner. ACWA regions provide the grassroots support to advance ACWA's legislative and regulatory agenda.

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Operation Santa Claus Lifts Off at OCWD

It has been more than 20 years that OCWD Staff Accountant Donna Pike has volunteered to head up the annual holiday clothing and toy drive, which benefits the County of Orange Operation Santa Claus program. She’s asking for your help, once again, to bring smiles to the faces of the underprivileged in Orange County during this festive season.

Operation Santa Claus provides gifts to children who have been placed in foster care, as well as to low-income seniors and adults with disabilities who are served by the County of Orange Social Services Agency, Health Care Agency, Probation Department, Child Support Services, and OC Community Resources.

“Your tender attention and gifts will make the holidays a little brighter for the abandoned, neglected, abused, and disabled in Orange County,” says Donna.

When visiting Fountain Valley headquarters through December 18, you will see Angel tags hung in the OCWD reception area. Employees and visitors can choose a tag, fulfill the holiday wish on that tag and place the unwrapped item under the holiday tree.

Thanks to the generous support of Donna and OCWD staff and guests, hundreds of people in Orange County will have a happier holiday this year.

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Celebrating the Power of Volunteerism on Dec. 5

In 1985, the United Nations designated Dec. 5 as International Volunteer Day, an observance to celebrate the power and potential of offering one’s service unselfishly. This is an opportunity to raise awareness of the many contributions volunteers make to their communities.

The Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) relies on volunteers for its Children’s Water Education Festival, and we applaud all for their assistance. We can’t let this upcoming celebration go by without acknowledging the hundreds of volunteers each year over the past 21 years who have donated their time to the Festival as presenters, activity aides, festival guides, registration assistants, bag stuffers, parking attendants, and more. The Festival would not be possible without their tremendous help.

The mission of the Children’s Water Education Festival is to educate students about water-related and environmental issues through immersive and interactive experiences taught to Next Generation Science Standards. It returns for its 22nd year on March 28 and 29, 2018 at the University of California, Irvine.

More than 7,500 students will attend, and hundreds of volunteer positions for individuals and groups are available before and during the award-winning event.

To sign up to volunteer, or for more information, please visit the Children’s Water Education Festival website.

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World Toilet Day 2017 Theme is Wastewater

For the past four years, the United Nations has designated November 19 as World Toilet Day to inspire action to tackle the world-wide sanitation crisis. The goal is to ensure everyone everywhere has access to toilets by 2030, making sanitation a global development priority. This year’s theme was “wastewater” and it hit home, especially for the Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District).

United Nations sustainable development targets include halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and increasing recycling and safe reuse. They look to waste being contained, transported, treated and disposed of in a safe and sustainable way.

OCWD and the Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) have recycled wastewater, first with Water Factory 21 during the 1970s, followed by the creation of the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS)—the world’ largest advanced water purification project for potable reuse, in 2008. Read More…

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Many Joining #GetOverIt! Campaign…And Telling Others

In January of 2017, when AB2022 went into effect and allowed the bottling of advanced purified reused water for educational purposes, Orange County Water District (OCWD) and Orange County Sanitation District staff began a campaign that is gaining momentum for the acceptance of recycled water systems in the state of California. The #GetOverIt! slogan refers to the number one reason why most advanced purified water systems never get off the drawing board. The local communities can’s get past the “yuck” factor. Read More…

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Share Your Comments on Draft Water Management Plan

The county of Orange is accepting comments on the draft Integrated Regional Water Management Plan for North and Central Orange County.  This plan details collaborative efforts to manage all aspects of water resources in the region and identifies priorities for future programs and projects to achieve the goals set in the plan. Agencies, organizations and stakeholders collaborated to identify water resource needs, develop goals to improve management of water and to collectively evaluate projects to be built in order to increase regional self-reliance and improve the quality of life in Orange County. 

The OC Plan combines and updates two existing plans that were prepared by the county of Orange.  The North Orange County Watershed Management Area Integrated Regional Water Management Plan was completed in 2011 and the Integrated Regional Water Management Plan: Central Orange County Management Area was completed in 2013.  Collaborative watershed planning in Orange County began more than a decade ago.  Preparation and implementation of The OC Plan aims to build on these past successful efforts. 

The goals established in The OC Plan are to improve water supply, protect water quality, enhance the environment and habitat, provide flood risk management, improve the quality of life, and address climate change.  

Comments on the plan should be emailed to and will be accepted until December 20, 2017. 

A download of The OC Plan and instructions for review are available at the OC Watersheds Documents for Review webpage (scroll to the bottom). 

A printed version may be viewed at Orange County Public Works, Environmental Resources at 2301 N. Glassell, Orange, CA 92865, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

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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 recently participated in the following: 

  • •   President Denis Bilodeau participated in World Water-Tech North America, where he was session chair regarding alternative water sources and he also spoke regarding pioneering water reuse.
  • •   President Bilodeau also provided a presentation about OCWD to Assemblymember Matthew Harper and a group of staff members from local elected officials’ offices, after which they toured the GWRS. The group was organized by the California Special Districts Association (CSDA). And, he participated in the 7th Annual Central Coast Sustainability Summit and presented about the GWRS.
  • •   Director Vicente Sarmiento and Director of Engineering Chris Olsen participated in the Spain-Southern California Investment Summit in Los Angeles. Director Sarmiento presented about the GWRS and OCWD’s long-term planning.
  • •   Director Roger Yoh provided an OCWD briefing about the status of the basin and District programs/projects to the city of La Palma.
  • •   Director Shawn Dewane presented a certificate to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts (SCFTA) in honor of the opening of the Julianne and George Argyros Plaza. Shown in the photo is SCTA President Terrance Dwyer (left) with Director Dewane.


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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:

Read More…

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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.

 New Hires


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Upcoming Events

December 6: 5:30 p.m. Board of Directors Meeting (Boardroom)

December 7: 8:00 a.m. Communications/Legislative Committee Meeting (C-2)

December 8: 7:30 a.m. Water Advisory Committee of Orange County (WACO) (Boardroom)

December 13: 8:00 a.m. Water Issues Committee Meeting (Boardroom)

December 14: 8:00 a.m. Admin/Finance Committee Meeting (C-2)

December 20: 5:30 p.m. Board of Directors Meeting (Boardroom)

December 22:  noon Property Management Committee Meeting (C-2)


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October Tours

Thank you to the more than 700 guests who toured OCWD’s facilities in October:

Guests included members of the State Regional Water Quality Control Board, Association of California Water Agencies, Groundwater Resources Association of California Southern California Branch, American Society of Civil Engineers, MWDOC’s water-use efficiency workshop, American Institute of Chemical Engineers student chapter at UCI, Leadership Tomorrow, and American Academy of Environmental Engineers & Scientists student chapter; participants of the Groundwater Adventure Tour; State Water Resources Control Board Vice-chair Steven Moore; students from the CSU Fullerton nursing program, Redondo Union High School, Golden West College, and Los Angeles Trade Tech; EarthEcho Teachers; Orange County legislative staff members and staff from the office of Congressman Alan Lowenthal (shown in photo); a Japanese delegation; 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

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                                                                      Fountain Valley, CA 92708

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