October 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—Imagine a Day Without Water

Earlier this month, Imagine a Day Without Water (Oct. 10) raised awareness about the value of water as a life source and how important it is to invest in water infrastructure to assure that every time we turn on the faucet, we receive reliable, quality water. Our forefathers went to great efforts to bring water to this area and the Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) continues efforts to provide water to our growing population. For the next few minutes while reading this, I’d like you to imagine a day without water and to know the extensive efforts made to ensure it never happens.

What if your local water department sent you a letter indicating that it needed to do a valve repair in the street and you would be without water for most of a day? Knowing of the impending shutdown you can run the dishwasher, throw in a load of laundry and fill a few pots for cooking and a few buckets for toilet flushing to be ready. Taking a shower early in the morning before the jackhammer started pounding out front would also be important knowing that being all soaped up right at the time the water was cut off would be a disaster.

A day without water would be okay if you were given notice. A surprise shutdown without notice would be uncomfortable, but survivable. Having the water out for a week or a month after a natural disaster would be a different story. Read More…

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Denis R. Bilodeau, P.E.





OCWD Poised to Capture More Stormwater

Relying on Mother Nature entirely for water reliability in Orange County is not a realistic water strategy.  That is why the Orange County Water District (OCWD) has made significant investments in researching and developing cutting-edge technology, such as water reuse, to help the region weather droughts. However, on the chance that a large rain event does occur, OCWD has found a way to capture more stormwater without having to spend tens of millions of dollars in new infrastructure. The solution?  Collaborating with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE; the Corps) to conserve a larger pool of water behind Prado Dam in Riverside County. Read More…

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OCWD’s Legislative Advocacy=Results

Significant legislative work took place for the Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) during 2018 on both the state and federal levels. Some of the goals of OCWD this year included seeking further credit for advanced purified water recycling within water conservation planning, securing additional funding for the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) final expansion, and research to better enable capturing stormwater a Prado Dam through Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations (FIRO). The District was very successful in bringing significant funding to the region and advocating to protect investments and water rights. The following are a few highlights: Read More…

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North and South Basin Cleanup Efforts Update

The following is an update regarding the Orange County Water District’s (OCWD; the District) groundwater cleanup efforts in the North and South basin areas.

Work is steadily proceeding on both groundwater remediation projects. Faced with protracted litigation, inadequate action from most of the parties responsible for the contamination, and continually spreading plumes, the OCWD Board of Directors instructed staff to proceed with formal remedial investigations and feasibility studies (RI/FS) for the North and South Basin plumes. This work is being done in conformance with National Contingency Plan (NCP) protocols to preserve the District’s rights to recover costs from those responsible and provide technical support for additional regulatory enforcement actions.

The RI/FS and the early action cleanup work are being paid for by OCWD. To help offset these financial liabilities and protect ratepayers, OCWD has applied for and received partial funding from the Proposition 1 Groundwater Sustainability Grant through the California State Water Resources Control Board. Grant funding eligibility is limited to 50 percent of the cost of studies and construction. The much higher cost of long-term operation and maintenance will not be eligible under the program. It is expected that funding of that work will ultimately derive from the responsible parties. Read More…

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OCWD and OCSD Receive Regional PRSA Award

The Orange County Water District (OCWD; District) and Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) received the 2018 Award of Excellence from the Orange County Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (OCPRSA) for the agencies’ “GWRS Bottled Water Campaign.” The award was presented during OCPRSA’s 43rd annual PROTOS awards ceremony, themed #INSPIRED, on Sept. 27, 2018, which honored this past year’s public relations extraordinary tactics and programs. Read More…


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Become a Children’s Water Education Festival Presenter

The Children’s Water Education Festival (Festival) is the largest event of its kind in the nation—an environmental education field trip serving up to 7,500 elementary school students annually. The Festival is provided at no cost to Orange County schools—public, private and home schools.

Your company or organization is invited to submit an application to participate as a presenter in the 2019 Festival, held March 27-28, at the University of California, Irvine. The Festival offers a unique opportunity to educate third, fourth and fifth grade students, about water and the environment, through hands-on educational activities and videos. Topics include water reuse, watersheds, wildlife and natural habitats, engineering, biology, chemistry, sea and space exploration, and recycling. Read More…

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Book an OCWD Expert

Does your group or organization need an expert to present about drinking water in north and central Orange County, the Orange County Groundwater Basin, water reuse, engineering, or environmental stewardship of the largest constructed wetlands on the west coast?

The Orange County Water District provides speakers to address those topics and more. There is no fee, but online registration is required.


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Happy Birthday Huell

Huell Howser, the congenial host of the California’s Gold and California’s Water series on PBS, would have turned 73 on Oct. 18. OCWD fondly remembers the popular TV host who came to the District to do two shows, one about the Children’s Water Education Festival in 2005 and the other about the Groundwater Replenishment System in 2007.

With his folksy Tennessee twang and sense of wonder, he introduced people to a “revolutionary project for water reuse,” as he termed it, and by bringing knowledge to his audience, he helped chip away at the toilet-to-tap negative concept and myth.

We are grateful to him and we are doing our part to keep his memory alive by providing his GWRS video for your viewing pleasure.

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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 represented the District at the White House State Leadership Day Conference for Alaska and California. More than 3,700 officials from across all 50 states participated in White House State Leadership Days conferences in Washington, D.C., advocating on behalf of a number of different industries.

•  General Manager Mike Markus was on a panel at an AWWA Water Roundtable Discussion in Los Angeles and presented “The Facts from Operating a Membrane Facility for Decades: OCWD, Water Factory 21 and the Groundwater Replenishment System” at the WEFTEC 91st Annual Technical Exhibition & Conference.

•  Executive Director of Engineering and Water Resources John Kennedy spoke about future expected water demands in OCWD, future water supplies, and potential future projects at the September 7 WACO meeting.

•  Executive Director of Operations/GWRS Mehul Patel participated in a panel discussion on the importance of source control for potable reuse and Executive Director of Water Quality & Technical Resources Jason Dadakis served on the technical program development committee and moderated a session on innovations in reuse treatment at the 33rd Annual WateReuse Symposium. In addition, R&D Department staff featured OCWD in multiple technical presentations ranging from the GWRS Final Expansion design to innovative monitoring technologies being assessed.


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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:

•   California Water News Daily: Orange County Water District Receives Two Reclamation Grants for Water Purification Research

•    California Water News Daily: Orange County Water District Appoints Westminster Mayor to Open Board of Director’s Seat

•   OCWD research and development short video: https://twitter.com/OCWDWaterNews

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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.

Employee of the Third Quarter--Ben Lockhart

Senior Environmental Specialist Ben Lockhart has been named Employee of the Quarter for consistently meeting and exceeding the expectations of his position. Ben has shown that he can be asked to accept and complete new or challenging responsibilities. In response to an unexpected staff departure, Ben has been assigned to review and update the annual microbiology report for the Santa Ana River Monitoring Program, as well as perform preparation of the monthly report for a regional board regarding the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System of the Environmental Protection Agency. He has completed these tasks with great capability and has produced excellent work products. Read More…

New Hires

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Upcoming Events

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

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

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

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

Nov. 15: Administration/Finance Committee Meeting (C-2)

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

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

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September Tours 


Thank you to the more than 150 guests who toured OCWD’s facilities in September. They included a Korean Delegation, a Chinese Delegation from Hernan Province and another from Guizhou Department of Forestry and Wetlands Protection Center, Cal State Fullerton Nursing students, Stanbridge University nursing students from Korea, Cal State Long Beach nursing students, Cal State University Dominguez Hills students, member of California Associates, and a Costa Mesa Sanitary District community group.

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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