November 2018

OCWD Board Members


Denis R. Bilodeau, P.E.

First Vice President


Second Vice President

Shawn Dewane 

Cathy Green
Dina L. Nguyen, ESQ.
Vicente Sarmiento, ESQ.
Stephen R. Sheldon
Tri Ta
James Vanderbilt
Bruce Whitaker
Roger C. Yoh, P.E.

General Manager

Michael R. Markus

In This Issue:


President’s Message—Setting Groundwater Management Standards

Sometimes, we are just thankful that things go well, and we don’t have to think about all the behind-the-scenes effort to reliably bring us a quality glass of water when we turn on the faucet. But for those inquisitive minds, I’m going to share with you how the Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) has helped to set standards for groundwater management that benefit those living in the District and beyond.

Orange County’s groundwater basin is the largest non-adjudicated basin in urban Southern California, which means that the basin’s groundwater pumping rights have not been divided up by a court of law. This requires the Orange County Water District to be creative in managing the pumping of groundwater to maintain reliability for all member agencies and to protect the integrity and health of the basin by using incentives and deterrents.

OCWD board and staff participate in state, national and international boards and committees and expert panels both to learn and to provide valuable information that could affect the governance and legislation of similar programs and to freely share ideas and innovations that could spur cost-effective and energy-efficient alternatives. Why do they invite us? Because OCWD is an innovator and authority on the subject of groundwater. Read More…

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Denis R. Bilodeau, P.E.




Lab Renamed to Honor Former OCWD Director Philip L. Anthony

Prior to its board of directors’ meeting on Nov. 7, Orange County Water District (OCWD, the District) directors and staff gathered for a ceremony with local, state and federal representatives to rename OCWD’s lab in honor of its former director, Philip L. Anthony. Joined by Director Anthony’s family and United States Congressman Jose Luis Correa (CD 46), the ceremony concluded with the unveiling of a plaque and new lab sign to officially dedicate the Philip L. Anthony Water Quality Laboratory. Director Anthony passed away on July 26, 2018.  

“The entire water industry, especially OCWD, has been mourning the loss of this visionary leader and we wanted a way to acknowledge Phil’s nearly 37 years of service on the board,” said OCWD President Denis Bilodeau. “The lab is critical to OCWD’s mission and its sophisticated analysis and testing ensures that water is safe for the more than 2.5 million people we serve. We are forever grateful to Phil for his service and leadership. After serving nearly four decades on the OCWD board, he played an important role in pioneering projects that have now become the industry standard.” Read More…

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OCWD Receives SETAC Award for Environmental Education

The Orange County Water District (OCWD; District) received the 2018 Stephen J. Klaine Environmental Education Award from the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) for the District’s environmental educational programs.  The award was presented during SETAC’s 39th annual meeting in Sacramento.

“We are deeply honored to be recognized for our contributions to the environment from such a prestigious group,” stated OCWD President Denis Bilodeau.  “Orange County Water District’s educational programs aim to engage our audiences, young and old, in a greater dialogue about water to benefit the planet.”

OCWD is dedicated to the creation, promotion and management of water education and conservation programs throughout Orange County, California.  It has several programs for students from grade school through university, for professionals in the water industry, for civic leaders, and for the general public. Read More…

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We Heard You Sarah Silverman (#Sarahhasapottymouth)

“I Love You, America,” an American web television late-night talk show hosted by comedian Sarah Silverman recently featured then-candidate Gavin Newsom who talked about California water and highlighted Orange County’s project, the GWRS, as a positive example of innovation. We don’t think Gavin took Sarah up on her suggested campaign slogan.

We are thankful the GWRS came up in semi-polite and often hilarious discussion. We invite you to view the full episode and let us know your choice for a new, more palatable name to take the place of “Toilet to Tap.” Don’t forget to use #OCWD in your Tweets and Facebook posts.

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Update on North Basin Groundwater Cleanup Project

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) hosted a community meeting attended by approximately 60 people for the Orange County North Basin site on Nov. 14 at the Fullerton Public Library.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss site activities; promote meaningful community involvement; share information about the proposed listing of the site on the National Priority List (NPL), EPA’s efforts for a Superfund Alternative Approach to NPL listing; the status of the Remedial Investigation (RI) being conducted by OCWD; learn about the public health assessment activities that will be conducted by CDPH; and hear the community’s concerns related to the site.

Following a 30-minute open house where guests could visit tables staffed by different agencies (EPA, CDPH, Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board, California Department of Toxic Substances Control, City of Fullerton, City of Anaheim, and OCWD), EPA representatives welcomed guests and introduced Orange County Water District (OCWD) Director Bruce Whitaker. Director Whitaker thanked community members for attending and stressed the importance of the collaborative local, state and federal effort needed to ensure a successful groundwater cleanup project. OCWD President Denis Bilodeau was also in attendance to represent the District and speak to guests. Read More…

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Groundwater Adventure Tour Draws 130+ to Learn About District Operations 

Approximately 130 people participated in the Orange County Water District’s (OCWD; the District) Groundwater Adventure Tour on October 25. The popular annual event took participants on a tour of District facilities and demonstrated how OCWD provides a safe and reliable water supply to north and central Orange County.

The tour began with an introduction by OCWD President Denis Bilodeau and an overview presentation of the District followed by a tour of OCWD’s laboratory and the Groundwater Replenishment System, the world’s largest facility for potable reuse. Read More…

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Festival Sponsor Opportunities Are Available

The award-winning Children’s Water Education Festival—the largest event of its kind in the United States—will  take place this coming March 27 and 28 at UC Irvine. About 7,500 third, fourth and fifth grade students and their teachers are expected to attend the event, presented by the Orange County Water District, Disneyland Resort, National Water Research Institute, and the OCWD Groundwater Guardian Team.

The Festival presents a unique opportunity to educate students about how they can protect water supplies and the environment. Since it is provided at no cost to schools, public and private financial support is crucial to the success of this educational event and its continued growth. As a sponsor, you will receive prominent recognition for your contribution.

There are many sponsorship levels and opportunities for the community to participate. Customized sponsorship opportunities are also available, including funding transportation for schools in your service area.

Since its inception, more than 129,000 children from schools throughout Orange County have been able to experience the Festival and all it has to offer. The tradition will go on with your help.

Visit to quickly and easily complete your sponsorship commitment form.

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Centennial Park Progress

If you have visited the Heritage Museum or Centennial Park in Santa Ana recently, you may have noticed construction equipment and activity. They are part of the Orange County Water District’s Mid Basin Centennial Park Injection Well Project. Set to be complete in summer of 2019, the project will inject purified water from the Groundwater Replenishment System, the world’s largest advanced purification project for potable reuse, into the principal aquifer and provide an additional source of water to replenish the Orange County Groundwater Basin.  Once complete, the project will provide 6 to 10 million gallons per day of water to fill the basin; enough water for up to 85,000 people.

As part of the project, the District will make several enhancements to Centennial Park, including constructing restrooms and changing rooms near the park’s soccer fields; building a new structure to replace existing restrooms and adding a park office near the skate park, building a sidewalk between the parking lot and soccer fields, replacing the fencing surrounding the skate park, installing a surveillance camera near the skate park, repaving 9.5 acres of parking areas and roadways encircling Centennial Park, and making site improvements to the Heritage Museum. The project is currently 50 percent complete.

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Operation Santa Claus Needs Your Help

A note from Donna Pike, Operation Santa Coordinator...

The 2018 holiday season is here and Operation Santa Claus is counting on us for our generous support and contributions. Today the need is greater than ever to meet the ever-growing demand for gifts to help the neediest children, teens and disabled adults/seniors in Orange County.

Please stop by the front lobby of the Orange County Water District (18700 Ward Street, Fountain Valley) to pick up an Angel tag(s) today! I have received 70 tags for children, infant to 18 years old, and 15 tags for seniors/disabled persons. You will find a list of gift suggestions on each tag. 

Gifts must be unwrapped with the angel tag attached to the gift.  You can also make a cash donation or purchase a gift certificate, especially for teens and seniors.  Please give cash, checks or gift certificates directly to Donna Pike in accounting, do not put under the tree. You can bring your gift to Donna Pike in accounting or wait until the tree goes up Dec. 4th. The gifts will be picked up on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018.

I would like to thank all in advance for helping to make this program a success. Please call me at (714)378-3308 if you have any questions or comments regarding Operation Santa Claus.

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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 President Denis Bilodeau presented before a delegation of water experts from Denmark regarding the GWRS, current groundwater status and future challenges.

  • •  Executive Director of Operations/GWRS Mehul Patel presented at the ACWA Region 10 conference titled “Removing Barriers to Innovation in Water.”

  • •  Director of Recharge & Wetlands Operations John Bonsangue presented about OCWD groundwater management and the GWRS at the 34th Annual Tri-State Seminar and he spoke at Career Day in Fountain Valley.

  • •  Public Affairs Director Eleanor Torres chaired the WateReuse CA Communications Collaborative Group.

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:

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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 Hire

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Employee Publication

OCWD Research and Development (R&D) staff published a new scientific article regarding the microbial community detected using cutting-edge metagenomic methods in the GWRS Advanced Water Purification Facility. The paper is titled Characterization of the Microbiome at the World’s Largest Potable Water Reuse Facility and was co-authored by Menu Leddy and Megan Plumlee from OCWD, with scientists from Colorado School of Mines, University of Maryland and CosmosID. The work was funded through a United States Bureau of Reclamation grant identified by R&D staff.

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Upcoming Events

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

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

Dec. 6: 8:00 a.m. Communications/Legislative Committee Meeting (C-2)

Dec. 12: 8:00 a.m. Water Issues Committee Meeting (Boardroom)

Dec. 13: Administration/Finance Committee Meeting (C-2)

Dec. 19: 5:30 p.m. Board of Directors Meeting (Boardroom)

Dec. 28: noon Property Management Committee Meeting (C-2)

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October Tours

Thank you to the more than 800 guests who toured OCWD’s facilities in October. They included the Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services for the government of Botswana and representatives of the World Bank; Washington, D.C. staff of Congressman Dana Rohrabacher; guests of the Groundwater Adventure Tour; members of Trojan Technologies, the Water Research Foundation, International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), Camp Pendleton drinking water division, the ReNUWit conference, Taiwan Power Company; staff from Congressman Alan Lowenthal’s office; a Chinese delegation through OC Public Works and members of Stantec escorting a Chinese delegation; students from the Cal State Fullerton Nursing Program, Vista Heritage Global Academy, Vanguard University, Cypress College, Orange Coast College, Cal State Long Beach, Leadership Tomorrow, and Centennial High School; and members of the monthly public tour.                 

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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