March 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—OCWD Opposes Water Tax Legislation

Reliable, safe drinking water is delivered to the 2.5 million people who live and work in the Orange County Water District (OCWD; District). However, residents in rural, low-income communities elsewhere in the state like in the Central Valley may not have access to quality drinking water.  Theirs is a legitimate problem of neglected infrastructure and means of water delivery, and contaminated supplies of water, all of which weren’t deemed priorities.

Last year, I wrote about this public health issue and a well-intentioned but misplaced funding bill that the District and other water agencies throughout California opposed. It failed, but has come up again for consideration, this time with a budget trailer bill. Read More…

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Denis R. Bilodeau, P.E.




Mike Wehner Honored as 2018 WateReuse California Recycled Water Advocate of the Year

Mike Wehner, assistant general manager of the Orange County Water District, was named 2018 WateReuse California Recycled Water Advocate of the Year. The honor was announced and presented on March 26 at the WateReuse California Annual Conference awards luncheon in Monterey, Calif.

This selection was made by the 2018 California Annual Conference Awards Sub-Committee members and the WateReuse California Board.

Mike has more than 40 years of experience and leadership in recycled water quality and is a true industry pioneer. Read More…

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April 4 Marks Global Day of Engineers

Some of our earliest memories of childhood include stacking alphabet blocks or building simple machines with Legos, Lincoln Logs or Tinker Toys. Little did we know, we were all engineers in the making, learning how and why things work and solving problems. We may have taken different life paths, but there is a bit of engineer in all of us. April 4 is Global Day of the Engineer Day, a time to celebrate and recognize engineers who have chosen exciting careers that inspire and create solutions that are among the modern wonders of this world.

Engineering is synonymous with creativity and innovation.  Engineers are curious, determined, enjoy improving and solving problems and are steadfast in wanting to make a difference. Their actions have created earliest aqueducts, monumental bridges and the world’s tallest buildings, computers that are now essential parts of our lives, and new sources of water.

Water Factory 21 (WF 21) and the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the foresight and revolutionary inventions of Orange County Water District (OCWD) engineers. Read More…

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 11th Annual OC Water Summit Will Be Magical

Historically, forecasting future water supplies was like looking into a murky crystal ball, with only slightly better odds of being accurate…until recently. Improved weather predictability, its correlation to capturing more stormwater, and other enchanting water topics will be discussed at the 11th Annual OC Water Summit on Friday, June 1 at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim. NBC4 Weathercaster Fritz Coleman returns as master of ceremonies for the day-long event, this year titled “Water, What’s Behind the Magic.”

Registration is now open for this 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.

Don’t miss early bird ticket prices of $130 that include a continental breakfast, lunch and self-parking. Prices will increase to $150 beginning May 18.  Read More…

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OCWD Natural Resources Staff is for the Birds!

By Dick Zembal, OCWD Natural Resources Director

Most people know that the Orange County Water District (OCWD) excels at water resource management but what you may not know is that OCWD is also renowned for its many achievements in wildlife management. In building a variety of projects, such as pump stations and well sites, and maintaining percolation basins and a part of the Santa Ana River itself, rare habitats and their inhabitants are encountered. OCWD obtains permits for its work in and around these aquatic environments and with those permits come requirements for caretaking the environment and inhabitants of the river environs.

As the Santa Ana River travels from the San Bernardino Mountains to Orange County, the water grows habitat, natural foods and wild creatures. The most visible of these wild river inhabitants are the birds. Their health and population levels are good indicators of how well we are doing with all of the rest.

OCWD natural resources staff is totally for the birds! Read More…

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UCI’s Water in California Exhibit Features OCWD Videos

The University of California, Irvine Libraries’ 2018 Winter Exhibit titled Water in California: Issues, Impacts & Innovation debuted Feb. 21 and features a medley of short videos produced for public education and created by the Orange County Water District (OCWD).

Themes covered in this exhibit include Water Management in California, Innovations in Water Technologies, Public Health and Water, Oceanography and Coastal Issues, Water as a Global Concern, and Water and Creativity. In addition to the formal exhibit, artwork by students from Lakeside Middle School, in the Irvine Unified School District, is on display.

Water in California was co-curated by Julia Gelfand, applied sciences and engineering librarian for the UCI Libraries and Dr. Shannon Roback, assistant director, water UCI, and a postdoctoral research associate ­­­­ at OCWD.

The exhibit will be on display through the end of the year in Ayala Science Library (2nd Floor, Bar Alcove) during regular library hours. For additional information call 949-824-4651.

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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 was part of a roundtable discussion about alternative water sources and led a panel that focused on water reuse and conservation and their challenges at World Water Tec Innovation Summit in London.
    • •   Director Vicente Sarmiento delivered a presentation to the Rotary Club of Tustin-Santa Ana about how OCWD provides water for 2.5 million people and businesses in Orange County.
    • •   Chief Hydrogeologist Roy Herndon gave a presentation about North Basin contamination and cleanup efforts to the Association of Groundwater Agencies and American Groundwater Trust.
    • •   Director of Special Projects Bill Hunt provided a presentation at the Los Alamitos Chamber of Commerce Networking Breakfast about the GWRS final expansion and how it will improve local water resources and water supplies.
    • •   Engineer Ben Smith spoke about the OCWD Centennial Park Mid-Basin Injection Project before the American Society of Civil Engineers Orange County Chapter.

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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 our retirees who, together, have served the District for 38 years!
We are fortunate to have had you as part of our OCWD team.


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Upcoming Events

March 27: Retirement Committee (C-2)

April 4: 5:30 p.m. Board of Directors Meeting (Boardroom)

April 5: 8:00 a.m. Communications/Legislative Committee Meeting (C-2)

April 6: 7:30 a.m. Water Advisory Committee of Orange County (WACO) (Boardroom)

April 9: 5:00 p.m. GWRS Steering Committee (Boardroom)

April 11: 8:00 a.m. Water Issues Committee Meeting (Boardroom)

April 12: 8:00 a.m. Admin/Finance Committee Meeting (C-2)

April 18: 5:30 p.m. Board of Directors Meeting (Boardroom)

April 27:  noon  Property Management Committee Meeting (C-2)

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February Tours 

Thank you to the nearly 500 guests who toured OCWD’s facilities in February:

Guests included students from the Edison High School Adult Transition Program, Santiago High School, Oxford Academy, UCI Exchange Student Program/Japan, San Clemente High School, Estancia High School, Sonora High School, the Vanguard University and Cal State Fullerton nursing programs, Chinese exchange students from ERDT en Vision, and members of the general public (February public tour shown in photo 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

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