April 2018

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— Southern California’s Rainy Season Misses Target. Now What?

Many thought we were out of drought status after California received 131 percent of average rainfall during our last rain year (October 2016 through September 2017). Unfortunately, after a fairly dry opening of Southern California’s rainy season that started December 2017 and even after a series of surprise storms at the season’s end in March 2018, rain amounts are 30-50 percent of normal. Ouch.

Okay, let’s get the bad news out of the way. We all knew that it would take about three years of exceptional rainy seasons to get California back to “normal.” The Orange County Groundwater Basin fared much better, for reasons I’ll get to later, and it is currently 45 percent filled. Our major source of imported water, Lake Oroville is at 60 percent capacity. This latter piece of information could put a damper (pun intended) on the amount we can receive.

Severe and Extreme drought status has been expanded for the state. In Orange County, the northern half is experiencing severe drought and the southern portion has moderate drought status. Below-normal precipitation is most likely to continue occurring across Southern California, according to the United States Drought Monitor, for the seeable future.

Once the State Water Resources Control Board declared the drought was over last year and lifted water-use restrictions, except for washing down pavement, using hoses without shut-off valves and a few other limitations, water use climbed. Read More…

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Denis R. Bilodeau, P.E.




Water Infrastructure is a Valuable Investment

“The future won’t wait. Neither can we. It’s #TimeToBuild” are the resounding messages of 2018 Infrastructure Week, May 14-21.

Infrastructure is an investment worth making and is critical to America’s future. Water infrastructure and the lack of infrastructure updates are of particular interest to the Orange County Water District and the people in its service area.

The Oroville Dam crisis in Northern California didn’t just affect the nearly 200,000 people living downstream from the crumbled spillway, it is crucial to the State Water Project, which supplies imported water for millions of people, businesses and farms from the north all the way through Southern California. OCWD buys about 10 billion gallons each year from the State Water Project and adds the imported water to its groundwater recharge basins in Anaheim and Orange.

Water mains, depending on the type of pipe used and soil in which they are placed, have a lifespan of from 50 to about 80 years, and sometimes 100. In many of our cities, they have been underground for more than 100 years. We looked with great concern as dozens broke in the Los Angeles/Orange County area during the recent drought, losing precious gallons of water.

All water agencies and districts must effectively plan, build, maintain, and manage infrastructure for their communities. The Orange County Water District is expanding or building a number of new water infrastructure projects to ensure long-term sustainability. More than $400 million will be invested to build the following projects:  Read More…

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OCWD Awarded for Leadership and Innovation in Water Reuse and Research

The Orange County Water District (OCWD) was honored by the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists (AAEES) with two awards that demonstrate its leadership and innovation in research and water reuse. OCWD received the Honor Award for Research for work to evaluate a more cost-effective and environmentally-friendly method of analysis of N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) in drinking water and recycled water that will improve public health protection. Together with the Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD), it also received the Grand Prize for Environmental Communications for the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) Bottled Water Campaign. The campaign sought to educate and increase awareness of water reuse projects like the GWRS and to break the stigma associated with these types of projects that are at times referred to as “toilet-to-tap.” Read More…

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Using Natural Wetlands for the Removal of Nitrogen

By Director of Special Projects Bill Hunt

Schoolchildren are taught that passing water through a wetland pond helps to purify water.  What they or very few others understand is why that is true or how it works.

Plants, like other living things, need food, water and air.  What better place to take these from than the water passing through a wetland?  There you have it, the plants sustain and feed themselves with the things suspended and dissolved in the water.  In the end, we have healthy plants and clean water. Not so fast!

Nitrates can get into the water supply due to fertilizer runoff. When it dissolves in water, nitrate is a pollutant known to be harmful to babies and small children. Too much nitrate in their blood interferes with the absorption of oxygen.  Nitrogen, by itself, is a perfectly safe, naturally occurring odorless gas that forms about 78 percent of Earth’s atmosphere and is known as one of the building blocks of life.  It can be converted into compounds like nitrates, which are introduced to fertilizers. 

On one hand, nitrate can be harmful. On the other hand, nitrate stimulates growth in plants.  Read More…

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What’s Behind the Magic? Find Out at the 11th Annual OC Water Summit.

Registration is underway for the 11th Annual OC Water Summit that takes place June 1 at Disneyland’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. Popular NBC4 Weathercaster Fritz Coleman returns as master of ceremonies.

Last year, California’s historic drought was washed away by remarkable storms only to have the climate pendulum swing right back. While water professionals in Southern California worked their magic to store as much water as possible, water systems in other parts of the state are still struggling.

This year’s theme “Water, What’s Behind the Magic,” seeks to answer how we will deal with the annual uncertainty of water; how to ensure that supplies are ample, even when the forecast is daunting; who will come to the aid of those in need of safe drinking water; and where will the money come from to fund it.

Prominent authors, world-renowned experts, and distinguished speakers will deliver presentations and discuss these topics. Among them are the following: Read More…

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Paying Tribute to OCWD Volunteers

April is National Volunteer Month and the Orange County Water District is proud to celebrate the good deeds of its employees. Just last month, more than 70 staff volunteered time to assist at the Children’s Water Education Festival. In addition, the impact and power of volunteerism is felt here and around the world by the selfless efforts of OCWD employees on behalf of other organizations. The following is just a sample of their good deeds and the opportunities available to others.

Supervising Chemist Jeremy Davis donates platelets and plasma and Director of Special Projects Bill Hunt donates plasma for the American Red Cross. Both have rare AB blood types that qualify them as universal donors for some critical blood components. Their donations often go to grateful cancer and traumatic burn patients, young and old. “All types of blood or blood component donations support the health of some of the most vulnerable among us,” says Jeremy. “The donation center is only five minutes from our Fountain Valley Office,” adds Bill. If you would like to become a Red Cross donor, visit the Red Cross website: www.redcrossblood.org, or take part in the upcoming OCWD blood drive on April 27. Read More…

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22nd Annual Children’s Water Education Festival Kept Dry and Lively

Following a flurry of rainstorms earlier in the month, the 22nd Annual Children’s Water Education Festival hosted nearly 7,000 Orange County students over two days of blue skies and near-perfect temperatures.

The children, in grades 3, 4 and 5, and their more than 1,000 teachers and chaperones enjoyed the free field trip hosted by the Orange County Water District (OCWD), Disneyland Resort, the National Water Research Institute, and the OCWD Groundwater Guardian Team. The event has educated more than 129,000 students since its inception.

Festival educates students about local water issues and other STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) topics and careers. It helps them understand how they can protect water supplies and the environment. These topics are vitally important as California endures cyclical drought and natural resources are depleting. It is essential to invest in educating the next generation of leaders to solve these environmental challenges. 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 recently participated in the following: 

      • •   OCWD hosted guests of the Canadian Consulate for the Canadian Innovation in Water and Power Southern California Roadshow.

      • •   Executive Director of Water Quality and Technical Resources Jason Dadakis and Director of Water Production/GWRS Mehul Patel gave a presentation at the WateReuse California Annual Conference in Monterey titled “Practical Operational Approaches to Meet Pathogen LRV Requirements for GWRS.”

      • •   More than 70 OCWD staff volunteered over a two-day period at the Children’s Water Education Festival on the campus of UC Irvine. 

      • •   Mehul Patel served as a moderator on various panels and GWRS Project Manager Sandy Scott-Roberts spoke about the GWRS Final Expansion challenges at the American Water Works Association 2018 Membrane Technology Conference & Exposition.

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 Rita Hintlian

Rita consistently maintains exemplary work standards and productivity beyond what is normally expected. She performs at a high quality and incredibly efficient level on a daily basis. She is an extremely creative problem solver and always shows a very high degree of initiative resulting in saving staff enormous amounts of time by constantly streamlining processes.

  • •   She went the extra mile assisting our Golden State Water Company producer to complete a large information request for a new well siting project. 
  • •   She researched and created special statistical box plots for a report/presentation. 
  • •   She volunteered to be the ASPEN LIMS system/ WRMS liaison between the Lab and Water Quality.
  • •   She eagerly assisted another department with interviews.

Rita takes pride in her work and it shows. She consistently goes above and beyond in all she does.

Congratulations Rita!

New Hire



Congratulations to our retiree Mark Yamamoto who served the District for nearly 30 years!
We are fortunate to have had you as part of our OCWD team.

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Upcoming Events

May 2: 5:30 p.m. Board of Directors Meeting (Boardroom)

May 3: 8:00 a.m. Communications/Legislative Committee Meeting (C-2)

May 4: 7:30 a.m. Water Advisory Committee of Orange County (WACO) (Boardroom)

May 16: 8:00 a.m. Water Issues Committee Meeting (Boardroom)

May 23: 5:30 p.m. Board of Directors Meeting (Boardroom)

May 25:  noon  Property Management Committee Meeting (C-2)

June 1: 7:30 a.m. 11th Annual OC Water Summit (reservation only)

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March Tours 

Thank you to the more than 400 guests who toured OCWD’s facilities in March:

Visitors included staff of California Assembly Member Freddie Rodriguez (District 52) and Congresswoman Norma Torres (35th District); guests of the Canadian Consulate for the Canadian Innovation in Water and Power Southern California Roadshow; two groups of nursing students from Cal State Fullerton; students from Godinez, Rowland and Huntington Beach high schools; students from the Orange County Junior Ambassadors Leadership program; staff from Kennedy Jenks, the State Water Resources Control Board, the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board, the county of Orange, and the Water Research Foundation; 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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                                                                           18700 Ward Street
                                                                      Fountain Valley, CA 92708

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