President’s Message—OCWD Takes Early Action to Protect the Groundwater Basin

Supporting its longstanding effort to clean up groundwater contamination in the north part of the Orange County Groundwater Basin (Basin), the Orange County Water District (OCWD, the District) recently put Extraction Well 1 (EW-1) into operation. This is part of a larger effort to clean industrial contaminants in the north part of the Basin. EW-1 will aid in preventing the further spread of contaminants in this area. Only drinking water that meets state and federal standards continue to be provided to OCWD’s service area.

EW-1 was implemented because early action was deemed necessary by OCWD’s board of directors. Due to OCWD’s stringent and ongoing monitoring, elevated concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were found to be impacting the shallow and principal aquifers which posed a threat to city of Fullerton production wells.  To address this threat, EW-1 was equipped and put into operation. EW-1 is now pumping 1,000 gallons per minute of untreated groundwater and is discharged to a nearby Orange County Sanitation District sewer to be treated and sent to OCWD’s Groundwater Replenishment System for purification. After treatment, the water will meet or exceed all drinking water standards and will be recharged back into the Basin.

This is what we do and we do it well. OCWD is a global leader in groundwater management and protecting the Basin is the very core of our mission. We will do everything possible to ensure that the Basin is protected and that only the highest quality water is served to the more than 2.5 million people in north and central Orange County who rely on the Basin for 75 percent of their water supply. We definitely have a broader plan that we’re following to clean up this contamination, but if we deem that immediate action is required we will not hesitate to make that call.

EW-1 is located near the intersection of State College Boulevard and Valencia Drive in Fullerton. Installation of this well was paid for by OCWD; however, District staff also applied for Proposition 1 grant funding to help offset the cost. Settlement funds from parties responsible for the contamination will be put toward the operation and maintenance of the well.

EW-1 is one of many steps that will be taken to continue to clean up contamination. The District is committed to ensuring exceptional water quality and is proactive in its approach to protecting the region’s most valuable asset. For more information about the North Basin cleanup efforts, please visit


Denis R. Bilodeau, P.E.