January 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— Anniversaries Mark Years of Reliable, High-quality Water

The California Legislature created the Orange County Water District (OCWD; District) in 1933, giving it broad powers to manage the Orange County Groundwater Basin and protect the county’s water rights to the natural flows of the Santa Ana River. This year marks the 85th anniversary of the agency that safeguards and provides the majority of the drinking water supply in north and central Orange County.

The Groundwater Replenishment System, which OCWD co-created with the Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD), provided enough new water to get us through the recent five-year drought unscathed. This year marks a GWRS milestone as well—its 10-year anniversary.

It’s a good time to celebrate and reflect on OCWD’s accomplishments over the many years, which can be summed up in one phrase: A long tradition of innovation. Read More…

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Denis R. Bilodeau, P.E.




OCWD Honored with Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award

The Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) received the 2017 Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA) for environmental education, California’s highest and most prestigious environmental honor. OCWD’s entry was deemed “exceptional for its innovative spirit and value to California’s environment and economy.” Governor Brown recognized OCWD and other GEELA recipients at an award ceremony in Sacramento held on January 17 at the California Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Sacramento. Senator John Moorlach and Assemblymember Matthew Harper participated in the event honoring OCWD.

The GEELA recognizes individuals, businesses and organizations that have demonstrated exceptional leadership and have made notable, voluntary contributions to conserving California’s precious resources, protecting and enhancing our environment, building public-private partnerships, and strengthening the state’s economy.

 “This year’s GEELA recipients are demonstrating exceptional leadership in addressing some of our most significant environmental challenges,” said California Secretary for Environmental Protection Matthew Rodriquez. “Whether it’s fighting climate change, conserving our water supplies or reducing waste, they inspire us with their creative and collaborative approaches. Their success expands our view of what is possible. Collectively, they are proving that a healthy environment is inextricably linked with a vibrant economy." Read More…

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Public Invited to Celebrate GWRS 10th Anniversary at Winter Fest

The Orange County Water District and Orange County Sanitation District are hosting Winter Fest to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS), the world's largest potable reuse facility of its kind.

Join us on Friday, Feb. 16 from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. for a fun-filled winter experience as we set a new Guinness World Records title for the most wastewater recycled to drinking water in 24 hours. The free event will feature a snow slide, a snow play area, food from The Lime Truck and The Burnt Truck, music to include The Big Jim Caver Band and Santa Ana High School's Mariachi Los Santos, tours*, and more! There will also be opportunities to win prizes.

For more information about the event and to register for a tour of the GWRS, please visit www.ocwd.com/gwrs/winter-fest.

*Tour reservations are required.

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OCWD’s Groundwater Expert Elected to GRA Post

Orange County Water District (OCWD) Recharge Planning Manager Adam Hutchinson has been elected to serve as the vice president of the Groundwater Resources Association of California (GRA) (www.grac.org). Adam has been a board member since 2013 and over the past two years, he has served as officer of special projects, in which he oversaw the creation of a new GRA website and started several new branches. The GRA is a non-profit organization of groundwater professionals dedicated to resource management that protects and improves groundwater supply and quality through education and technical leadership.

At OCWD, Adam is responsible for testing and evaluating new methods to increase the capacity of the existing recharge system, planning for future expansion of the recharge system, and assisting recharge operations in developing optimization strategies. He has 30 years water resources experience with 18 at OCWD. He is also a Professional Geologist (PG) and Certified Hydrogeologist (CHG) in the state of California.  
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Volunteers Needed for Children’s Water Education Festival

Are you passionate about the environment, children and/or education? Do you want to give back to your community? Perhaps you need volunteer hours for school or work. This is your opportunity to volunteer at the 22nd annual Children’s Water Education Festival.

The award-winning Festival teaches environmental education and STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) to local elementary school students through hands on learning activities. Hundreds of volunteers are needed to assist presenters, check in schools, pass out lunches, assemble goody bags, hang signs, direct vehicles, and more!

The Festival takes place at the University of California, Irvine. Positions are available on Tuesday, March 27; Wednesday, March 28; and Thursday, March 29.

All volunteers receive an event t-shirt, lunch, and are entered into a drawing to win great prizes like Disneyland Resort park hopper tickets. To learn more and to register, visit www.childrenwaterfestival.com.

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The OC Plan Website Calls for Project Ideas

The County of Orange is preparing a new watershed management plan for the north and central portions of Orange County and is asking for all agencies and organizations to send in their project ideas to be added to the plan. 

The OC Plan for Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) for North and Central Orange County (The OC Plan) was drafted with OCWD, OCSD, the Newport Bay Watershed Executive Committee, representatives from cities and agencies, and numerous stakeholders around the county.

The purpose of the plan is to improve management of water resources and maximize grant funding to improve the quality of life in Orange County.  The final step to complete the planning process is to compile a list of potential projects from agencies and organizations in the region. Read More…

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OC Water Hero Smartphone App Makes Water Education Fun

With an average rainfall of only 14 inches per year, Orange County is no stranger to hot, dry conditions. It is important now more than ever to teach children that they can make a difference, and that small changes make a BIG impact. The OC Water Hero program was developed to teach Orange County’s youngest water users – children – how to become environmental stewards and use water wisely. By using fun  and relatable characters, children are encouraged to become water heroes in their own communities by pledging to conserve water, tracking their water use, and educating their parents and friends how they too can save water and become an OC Water Hero.

With the development of the OC Water Hero application for iOS and Android, becoming an OC Water Hero has never been easier. Children make their way through the water system collecting as many water drops as they can while learning important water facts from their favorite water heroes and earning prizes. There are multiple levels to play, and new levels and characters are added frequently. Download the free OC Water hero app from the Google Play Store or App Store. For additional information, visit www.ocwd.com/learning-center/oc-water-hero.

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World Wetlands Day Feb. 2

“Wetlands for a sustainable urban future” is the theme for the 2018 World Wetlands Day on February 2.

The Orange County Water District (OCWD; District) understands the value of wetlands and their impact upon a healthy and sustainable water supply.  The District owns, operates and has developed the 450-acre Prado Wetlands. Located behind Prado Dam in Riverside County, they are the largest constructed wetlands on the west coast of the United States.

The Prado Wetlands enhance water quality by removing nitrate and other pollutants in the Santa Ana River water that flows to Orange County. Care programs for the wetlands, including habitat restoration to endangered animals and removal of nonnative invasive species of vegetation, additionally allow OCWD and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to capture stormwater at Prado Dam for recharge in Orange County—providing a local water supply and saving millions of dollars each year.

Since its inception in 1997, the Ramsar Convention, which established World Wetlands Day, has provided the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. You can visit the Ramsar website for valuable information, activities and resources.

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Save the Date for OC Water Summit

People turn on their faucets and water magically appears. They don't give a thought to what it takes to get there. This year’s OC Water Summit will take you behind the magic of water. Learn about the people, the technology and the ideas that make our most precious resource available. Registration is coming soon for this popular annual event that takes place on June 1 from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel  & Spa at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim.

To view last year's program, visit www.ocwatersummit.com.

For sponsorship opportunities, contact Tiffany Baca (714) 593-5013, tbaca@mwdoc.com; or Crystal Nettles (714) 378-3202, cnettles@ocwd.com.

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The Future of Groundwater in California

The Environmental Defense Fund and the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute are excited to share with you their new report, The Future of Groundwater in California: Lessons in Sustainable Management from Across the West.

The report investigates nine case studies, including the Orange County Water District, from six western states to present key lessons learned. Ultimately they uncovered an interesting array of tools and strategies that will be a helpful resource for groundwater managers in California as they grapple with implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

Please feel free to reach out to cbabbitt@edf.org at EDF’s Western Water Program if you have any questions about the report or if you are curious about some of the other resources they are working on to support SGMA implementation.

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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 Director Cathy Green, General Manager Mike Markus, Public Affairs Director Eleanor Torres, and Legislative Affairs Liaison Alicia Dunkin met with State Senator Hertzberg regarding the credit for potable reuse in the upcoming long-term conservation legislation.

  • •   OCWD Director Roger Yoh, Mike Markus and Alicia Dunkin met with State Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva regarding the credit for potable reuse in the upcoming long-term conservation legislation.

  • •   Executive Director of Planning and Natural Resources Greg Woodside provided a presentation titled “Exploring the Possibilities of Prado Dam” at a National Water Research Institute workshop on seasonal to sub-seasonal precipitation forecasting.

  • •   The District hosted the bimonthly meeting of the Orange County Chapter of WateReuse California. Over 50 local professionals attended, with presentations given by OCWD Research Director Megan Plumlee on the District’s applied research program.

  • •   Recharge Planning Manager Adam Hutchinson hosted Department of Water Resources (DWR) staff from the Sustainable Groundwater Management (SGM) group based in Sacramento.

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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.

Ramon (Ray) Camacho – Employee of the 4th Quarter and Employee of the Year 2017

Ray Camacho has an incredible work ethic and a positive attitude. When the maintenance utility department became shorthanded, Ray provided additional help and pulled double duty for months. He worked his Fridays off and came in on weekends in order to keep the projects moving. Ray helped with the microfiltration header and membrane change outs and volunteers on the Confined Space Rescue Team. He consistently stepped up and completed everything asked of him without complaint.

Ray previously worked in the Forebay Operations group. He transitioned to the Fountain Valley headquarters seamlessly, learning the site and its many facets as well as befriending many. He’s been a great addition to the maintenance group and was recently promoted from Utility Mechanic to Grade I Maintenance Mechanic .

Ray is an excellent team player and strives to meet any expectation placed on him to meet critical deadlines.

Congratulations Ray!


Service Awards

Forty-two Employees Honored with OCWD Service Awards

At the core of OCWD’s success is recruiting and retaining a talented workforce. This year, 42 of its 218 employees celebrated work milestones for a combined 530 years of service. The following is a list of employee recipients.

Two employees, Jeremy Davis, supervising chemist, and John Souza, shift supervisor IV, celebrated 40 years with the District. When asked his favorite part about working for the District, Jeremy replied, “Working with the greatest team of people I can imagine for so many years, and working in such an important field; the field of ensuring the quality of water for Orange County.”

Forty Years Service

Jeremy Davis, Supervising Chemist
John Souza, Shift Supervisor IV

Read More…


New Hires







Ameen Tohmeh
Engineering Research Intern
Research & Development

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Employee Publications                            

Principal Scientist Ken Ishida co-authored a publication with researchers from California State University at Long Beach related to UV/AOP treatment: “Temperature dependence of hydroxyl radical reactions with chloramine species in aqueous solution” in the scientific journal Chemosphere. This information is needed for modeling the real-world performance of advanced oxidation systems for potable reuse. 

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Upcoming Events

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

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

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

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

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

February 16: 3-6 p.m. Winter Fest and official attempt to set a Guiness World Record (GWRS campus)

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

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

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December Tours 

Thank you to the more than 200 guests who toured OCWD’s facilities in December:

Guests included students from Saddleback College, Costa Mesa and Dana Hills high school; Chinese delegations from the Shanghai Municipal Audit Bureau, the Shanghai Water Authority and the Beijing Water Authority; members of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Young Member Forum, United States Department of Water Resources, the Orange County Chapter of WateReuse AC; 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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                                                                      Fountain Valley, CA 92708

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