May 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—Increasing Storage Supplies During a Dry Year

Some of the best planners I know are employed at the Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District). Staff successfully planned to keep ocean water from contaminating our groundwater basin by creating Water Factory 21 (WF 21) in 1975. WF 21 was the first wastewater reclamation plant in the world to use reverse osmosis to treat wastewater to drinking water standards. The product water was then injected into underground aquifers, which created a hydraulic barrier preventing ocean water from polluting our groundwater basin.

This project paved the way for the new, advanced water purification facility, the Groundwater Replenishment System, which now provides 103,000 acre-feet of near-distilled quality water for the barrier and to put into the Orange County Groundwater Basin that provides 75 percent of the drinking water for the 19 agencies in the District.

That amount of water, though impressive, still isn’t enough during a drought and we must rely on imported water to keep the basin at healthy levels to provide reliable water supplies to our local residents and businesses.

I mentioned in my previous message that we had another very dry year. Yet, OCWD was able to increase storage supplies in the groundwater basin. How did that happen? Read More…
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Denis R. Bilodeau, P.E.





Legislation Closer to Crediting Reuse Projects

Early in 2017, the Brown Administration made it known that it sought legislation to mandate post-2020 water conservation requirements on local retail water providers.  The Legislature introduced several bills in the Assembly on various approaches to conservation, formed the Assembly Working Group on the issue and introduced very problematic Trailer Bill Language (TBL).  

The Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) engaged immediately, advocating for sufficient credit for communities that have invested in potable reuse projects.  OCWD sought to ensure that Orange County groundwater producers (retail agencies) received as much credit as they needed for the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) to ensure compliance with the long-term conservation legislation. Read More...

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Proposed Ocean Desalination Update

OCWD plans to discuss the proposed Poseidon Resources Huntington Beach Ocean Desalination Project at its June 6, 2018 Board of Directors meeting.

In May 2015, OCWD approved a Term Sheet with Poseidon Resources which designated the roles each party would have in potentially developing the project. Since that time, Poseidon has been working to obtain the necessary project permits from several state resource agencies and OCWD has been considering various options to distribute the ocean desalination water to different water agencies in the county.  Modifications to the May 2015 Term Sheet may be proposed at the board meeting.  Additionally, new project cost estimates will be provided.  Read More…

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Three-Year Project is Focus During American Wetlands Month

May is American Wetlands Month. Currently, the Orange County Water District’s Prado Wetlands—the largest constructed wetlands on the West Coast— are part of a three-year project led by the Colorado School of Mines (CSM) with co-investigators from the U.S. Geological Service (USGS). The project will explore natural nitrogen treatment of vegetation-free, shallow wetland ponds. Its goal is to increase the reliability and resiliency of an engineered wetland design, remove nutrients that hinder water capture and reuse, and do so with less energy and infrastructure demand than more traditional engineered water treatment systems. Read More…

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GWRS Bottled Water Tour Receives Two Recent Honors

The GWRS bottled water campaign to educate Californians about the taste and high-quality of advanced purified water recently received two additional honors following its grand prize for Environmental Communications by the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists.

The two newest awards are a Ragan’s 2017 PR Daily Honorable Mention in the Press Event or Media Tour category for the GWRS bottled water launch and a Platinum Hermes Creative Award in the category of Public Relations/Communications/Strategic Programs/PR Campaign for the year-long GWRS bottled water tour.  Read More…

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The Orange County Sanitation District Protects the Pacific Ocean

By Kathryn Beechinor and Jennifer Cabral, Special to the Orange County Water District

Our mission at Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) is “to protect public health and the environment by providing effective wastewater collection, treatment and recycling.” Which means, here at OCSD, every day, including the official date of June 8, is World Oceans Day.

We recognize that water is an invaluable resource, therefore approximately 100 million gallons of our treated wastewater from Plant No. 1 is recycled at the Orange County Water District as part of the Groundwater Replenishment System. The treated water at Plant No. 2 is released through a 5-mile long ocean outfall pipeline offshore of Huntington Beach. At OCSD we are dedicated to safeguarding the health of the environment. This has led us to take a comprehensive proactive approach to assuring our ocean waters are protected. 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: 

    • •   At its May 1 city council meeting, the city of Santa Ana recognized the month of May as Water Awareness Month and May 2nd through May 8th as Drinking Water Week and bestowed a proclamation to the Orange County Water District for its conservation and responsible use of the valuable resource that is water. The presentation was made to OCWD President Denis Bilodeau (left), with Director Vicente Sarmiento, who is also a city of Santa Ana councilmember, in attendance.

        • •   OCWD General Manager Mike Markus spoke about the GWRS during a congressional briefing highlighting how four different communities across the country are using recycled water.
        • •   Mike Markus met with Assemblyman Phillip Chen and staff from Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office to provide a briefing about the Orange County North Basin site and the EPA’s proposal to add it to the National Priorities List.

        • •   Mike Markus, OCWD CFO/Treasurer Randy Fick, OCWD Director of Public Affairs Eleanor Torres, OCWD Senior Engineer Lo Tan, and OCSD General Manager Jim Herberg and OCSD Assistant General Manager Rob Thompson met with three representatives of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to discuss Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse Program funding.

         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:


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 Scott Nygren and Darlene Fagan who served the District for a combination of nearly 30 years! We are fortunate to have had you both as part of our OCWD team.


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Employee Publications

Principal Scientist Ken Ishida co-authored an article with researchers from the University of California, Riverside, and Cal State University, Long Beach, related to ultraviolet/reverse-osmosis treatment: “UV Photolysis of Chloramine and Persulfate for 1,4-Dioxane Removal in Reverse-Osmosis Permeate for Potable Water Reuse” in the scientific journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Research Director Megan Plumlee co-authored an article with researchers from Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Khalifa University of Science and Technology, Colorado School of Mines, Institute for Energy and the Environment/WERC, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, University of Arizona, New Mexico State University, The University of Auckland, University of Calabria, and others, related to microfiltration/reverse-osmosis treatment: “A review of polymeric membranes and processes for potable water reuse” in the scientific journal Progress in Polymer Science.

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Upcoming Events

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

June 6: 5:30 p.m. Board of Directors Meeting (Boardroom)

June 7: 8:00 a.m. Communications/Legislative Committee Meeting (C-2)

June 8: 7:30 a.m. Water Advisory Committee of Orange County (WACO) (Boardroom)

June 13: 8:00 a.m. Water Issues Committee Meeting (Boardroom)

June 14: 8:00 a.m. Admin/Finance Committee Meeting (C-2)

June 20: 5:30 p.m. Board of Directors Meeting (Boardroom)

June 22:  noon  Property Management Committee Meeting (C-2)

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April Tours 

Thank you to the more than 400 guests who toured OCWD’s facilities in April. Visitors included Leslie Laudon, deputy director of the Division of Financial Assistance at the State Water Resources Control Board; Professor Vladan Babovic of the National University of Singapore; representatives from the U.S. Government Accountability Office; staff of the state Department of Water Resources and the City of Fountain Valley Water Department; Disneyland Resort staff and Club 33 members; nursing students, land and water resources students and chemical engineering students from Cal State Long Beach; students from Golden West, Orange Coast and Citrus colleges; students from Fountain Valley and Los Amigos high schools; students from The Pegasus School; 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

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