February 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—GWRS Sets World Record

To commemorate 10 years of breakthrough technology to enhance the reliability of local water supplies, the Orange County Water District (OCWD) and Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) have announced that the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) set a Guinness World Records™ title for the most wastewater recycled to drinking water in 24 hours. That amount was officially 100,008,000 gallons.

The two districts, collaborators in the world’s largest water purification facility of its kind—the GWRS, also hosted a free community event on Friday, Feb. 16 to celebrate the project’s decade anniversary and the official record attempt.

The start of the world record began on Thursday, Feb. 15 and lasted 24 hours, after which official Guinness World Records representatives tabulated and verified results.

For that 24-hour period, we hoped the world’s focus was on the future of water, the accomplishments of advanced water purification, and the potential for global water reliability. I’m proud that our agencies had the vision to implement this local solution more than a decade ago that has helped us better weather drought, increase local water reliability and stands as a model for world-wide use. Read More…

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Denis R. Bilodeau, P.E.




Support Needed for North Basin Cleanup - Comment Period Ends March 19

As part of their official rulemaking process, in January 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the addition of the Orange County North Basin, which is within the Orange County Water District (OCWD; District), to the National Priorities List (NPL).  EPA is accepting public comments regarding the proposed listing during a 60-day comment period that ends on March 19, 2018.  General information about the North Basin site is available on the EPA Superfund site and OCWD website.

In addition, a Myths & Facts informational flier is available that clarifies misconceptions that have surfaced regarding North Basin efforts.  Some claims have been voiced in ways that are meant to incite fear in the community and protect the bottom line for less than 20 businesses, many of whom no longer do business in Orange County.  It is important that stakeholders remain informed and make their comments known to EPA. Read More…

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Time is Running Out to Be a Festival Sponsor, Presenter or Volunteer

The 22nd annual Children’s Water Education Festival will take place March 28 and 29 on the campus of the University of California, Irvine and there are ample opportunities to support this award-winning environmental education event for Orange County elementary school students.

The Orange County Water District is accepting requests to be sponsors, presenters and volunteers through March 9.

Since its inception, the Festival has inspired and engaged more than 125,000 Orange County students in grades 3, 4 and 5 toward careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM.)  This is your chance to make an impact on the lives of the 7,500 children who will enjoy the Festival this year.

To sponsor, volunteer or present an activity, contact Crystal Nettles at (714) 378-3202 or cnettles@ocwd.com. To learn more about the Children’s Water Education Festival, visit www.childrenwaterfestival.com.

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NBC4 Weathercaster Fritz Coleman Set to Emcee 11th Annual OC Water Summit

The 11th Annual OC Water Summit explores “Water, What’s Behind the Magic” in a day-long event about the people, the technology and the ideas that have extraordinary influence in making our most precious resource available. NBC4 Weathercaster Fritz Coleman will return as master of ceremonies on Friday, June 1 at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim.

The OC Water Summit is a gathering of national and state policy makers, elected officials, scientists, world-renowned water experts, financial experts, prominent authors, and business leaders who come together to deliver presentations and discuss current drinking water concerns and solutions. This year’s concerns include the forecast of additional drought years in California following the reprieve of one wet year, how to ensure that water supplies are ample, and who will fund safe drinking water for those in need.

Registration is now open. We encourage you to take advantage of early bird ticket prices of $130, which will increase to $150 beginning May 18.

To learn more or to become a sponsor, contact Tiffany Baca (714) 593-5013, tbaca@mwdoc.com or Crystal Nettles (714) 378-3202, cnettles@ocwd.com.

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Free Water-Efficient Landscaping Workshop on March 10

Mesa Water® customers and community members are invited to the annual Springtime Landscape Workshop at the Mesa Water District boardroom (1965 Placentia Avenue, Costa Mesa 92627) on Saturday, March 10 from 8:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Space is limited and reservations are required for the free event that is taught by Mesa’s water-use efficiency analyst. R.S.V.P. online at MesaWater.org/LandscapeWorkshop, email conservation@MesaWater.org, or call 949.631.1201.

Participants will learn about using water wisely outdoors including turf removal methods, garden design and maintenance, California Friendly™ plants, water/money-saving rebate programs, efficient sprinkler systems, drip irrigation, and smart sprinkler timers.

The annual event is part of Mesa Water’s water awareness and education programs that inform residents and businesses about ways to save water, which also save money and the environment. For more water-saving information, visit MesaWater.org/save-water.

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Groundwater Protection is Key to a Reliable Water Future

By William Hunt, OCWD Director of Special Projects

National Groundwater Awareness Week is March 11-17. It is a time to consider the least obvious and, in Orange County, the most important water resource available—the Orange County Groundwater Basin. If you are one of the 2.5 million people living in the Orange County Water District (OCWD; District), you are currently receiving 75 percent of your water supply from this natural underground reservoir.

In many areas, the “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” character of groundwater has produced negative consequences.  Read More…

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New Equipment in OCWD’s Laboratory Ensures Premium Water Monitoring

The Organic section of OCWD’s Advanced Water Quality Assurance Laboratory (Lab) has installed two new Agilent Technologies Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer (GC/MS) systems to replace end-of-life analytical systems for nitrosamines (EPA 521) and semi-volatile organic compounds (EPA 525.3 and 530). These are important for the fourth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR) monitoring program for federal mandated program from 2018-2020.

The replacement systems are required to support the District’s testing for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency UCMR 4 monitoring program, Groundwater Replenishment System permit requirements, Santa Ana River (SAR) monitoring, and basin-wide groundwater monitoring. These monitoring programs are recommended by the independent expert panel members for the Groundwater Replenishment System and SAR monitoring program.

The Lab has utilized Agilent Technologies (formerly Varian) ion trap Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer (GC/MS) systems for these analyses for more than 17 years. It was fortunate to receive a trade-in credit to offset the costs of the new equipment. The Lab staff expects these new GC/MS systems to allow the Lab to provide highly sensitive and scientifically verified data to support the District’s analytical needs.

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Save Money; Fix a Leak March 19-25

You could save about 500 gallons every year just by fixing a leaking faucet. March 19-25 is Fix A Leak Week, a great time to check if you are unknowingly wasting water. One of the easiest ways to do this is to find your water meter and take a reading during a period when no water is being used. After two hours, if the meter increases, you probably have a leak.

To determine the source of the leak, discover methods to save water and save money, or to join United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) WaterSense Partners and make a difference in your community, visit the Fix a Leak Week website.

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World Water Day Theme: Nature for Water

World Water Day 2018 is themed Nature for Water and is celebrated on Thursday, March 22. “Nature-based solutions have the potential to solve many of our water challenges. We need to do so much more with ‘green’ infrastructure and harmonize it with ‘grey’ infrastructure wherever possible. Planting new forests, reconnecting rivers to floodplains, and restoring wetlands will rebalance the water cycle and improve human health and livelihoods,” according to UN-Water, the United Nation’s inter-agency collaboration mechanism for all freshwater related issues.

The Orange County Water District has been proactive in restoring 465-acres of wetlands, in the Prado Basin, which are used as an efficient process to naturally remove nitrates in the water. This helps to purify the water that will enter the Orange County Groundwater Basin, from which 2.5 million people get the major portion of their drinking water supply. Seasonal Prado Wetlands tours and nature hikes are available by booking online.

The annual World Water Day brings attention to the importance of global access to clean freshwater. Events are organized internationally to additionally increase awareness of the important role water plays in environment, agriculture, health, and trade. To learn more, visit the United Nations website.

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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: 

  • •   Director Denis Bilodeau provided a GWRS presentation and tour to a group from Trinity Episcopal Church in Orange.

  • •   Director Vicente Sarmiento, Senior Communications Specialist Crystal Nettles and Engineer Ben Smith provided an update on the Mid Basin Centennial Park Injection Project at the Windsor Village/North Neighborhood Association meeting.

  • •   Director of Special Projects Bill Hunt presented to the Leisure World Landscape Council group about OCWD and Orange County’s water supply.

  • •   Principal Hydrogeologist Dave Mark provided two guest lectures to 7th graders at South Lake Middle School in Irvine. He spoke about groundwater and OCWD during one lecture, and the other featured various specialties and careers in geology.  He also led a field trip to look at fossils in Aliso Viejo.

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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.

New Hires



Congratulations to retiree Grisel Rodriguez for her 30 years of service!
We are fortunate to have had you as part of our OCWD team.


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Employee Publications

Principal Scientist Menu Leddy and Research Director Megan Plumlee, with a host of colleagues, co-authored a guest column titled “High-Throughput DNA Sequencing To Profile Microbial Water Quality Of Potable Reuse” for Wateronline.com.  The article describes how research scientists are making strides to advance the safety and application of potable water reuse through the use of metagenomics for water quality analysis.

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Upcoming Events

March 2: 7:30 a.m. Water Advisory Committee of Orange County (WACO) (Boardroom)

March 7: 5:30 p.m. Board of Directors Meeting (Boardroom)

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

March 14: 8:00 a.m. Water Issues Committee Meeting (Boardroom)

March 15: 8:00 a.m. Admin/Finance Committee Meeting (C-2)

March 21: 5:30 p.m. Board of Directors Meeting (Boardroom)

March 23:  noon  Property Management Committee Meeting (C-2)

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January Tours 

Thank you to the nearly 300 guests who toured OCWD’s facilities in January:

Guests included New York Times Bestselling Author Thomas Kostigen; students from Orange Coast College, ERDT en Vision, and UCI School of Engineering; members of Trinity Episcopal Church and of the general public (pictured above). 

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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