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 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.
How are we able to ensure our slice of the Pacific Ocean is safe and clean for fish and humans alike? Meet Dr. Jeff Armstrong, Environmental Supervisor of our Ocean Monitoring Program (OMP). Jeff and his team play an important role in ensuring our mission is upheld by frequently monitoring the marine life, sediment quality, and water quality within 35 square miles of ocean. Which is the size of the city of Santa Ana!
On our off-shore monitoring vessel, M/V Nerissa, OCSD’s ocean monitoring team regularly examines the marine communities along our outfall pipe. Extensive research has revealed that the fish and other critters are healthy and no different from those living in similar parts of the ocean. Since 1985, the level of pollutants in the sediments has decreased dramatically due to our source control program. These levels continue to decline and are generally nontoxic to marine species. You can check out the results of our findings in the Marine Monitoring Annual Report or on our website.
In support of OCSD’s ocean monitoring program, our laboratory performs nearly 100,000 analyses on ocean samples each year. They examine weekly water samples collected from 38 stations along 21 miles of Orange County beaches to assess any potential health risks to beachgoers. Results demonstrate that the water OCSD releases does not negatively impact the local marine environment or contribute to exceeding recreational water quality standards.
In fact, OCSD is proud of the efforts we take every day to protect public health along with the environment. We take great care in using the best wastewater treatment technologies and our comprehensive ocean monitoring program continues to be a model for others throughout the nation. Join us in celebrating World Oceans Day as we protect our world’s shared ocean today and every day! A healthy ocean is essential to our future. What part will you play in protecting and conserving our oceans?
Visit us at www.ocsd.com or follow us on social media @ocsewers.