April 2019

OCWD Board Members


Vicente Sarmiento, Esq.

First Vice President

Cathy Green

Second Vice President

Stephen R. Sheldon

Denis R. Bilodeau, P.E.
Jordan Brandman
Dina L. Nguyen, Esq.
Kelly E. Rowe, C.E.G., C.H.
Tri Ta
Roger C. Yoh, P.E.
Ahmad Zahra

General Manager

Michael R. Markus

In This Issue:

•   President’s Message—Safe and Reliable Water in the Western United States

•   OCWD and OCSD Receive Mercury Award

•   New California Wetland Regulations

•   OCWD Establishes 2019 RA Price and Quantity of Basin Pumping

•   OC Water Summit Price Goes Up After May 2

•   Leaders Commemorate Long-Term Success on the Santa Ana River

•   Out in the Community

•   OCWD in the News

•   OCWD Employees—Employee of the 1st Quarter

•   Upcoming Events

•   March Tours



President’s Message — Safe and Reliable Water in the Western United States

I was truly honored to appear on behalf of the Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) recently in Washington D.C. to testify before the House Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife.  I spoke about a very pressing issue—the provision of a safe and reliable water supply in the western United States. 

President Sarmiento testifying before House SubcommitteeAs a leader in water recycling and groundwater management, OCWD was invited to discuss the projects and programs it has implemented that have helped our region to better weather drought and that have created a long-term reliable water supply for the 2.5 million people it serves in north and central Orange County.  

OCWD’s most notable accomplishment is its award-winning Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS), the world’s largest water purification project.  A joint project of OCWD and the Orange County Sanitation District, the GWRS has become a global model for water reliability.  Seeing wastewater as a resource, the two agencies made history when they brought a 70-million-gallon-a-day (MGD) project online in 2008 and a 30-MGD expansion online in 2015.  Today, the GWRS produces 100 MGD and a final expansion of the project will be implemented in 2023 that will bring total water production to 130 million gallons of water a day—enough water for one million people.  Read More…

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Vicente Sarmiento, Esq.






OCWD and OCSD Receive Mercury Award

The Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) and the Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) received a Silver Mercury Award for their Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) Bottled Water Campaign. The International Mercury Awards competition honors the best in public relations, public affairs and corporate communications.

The GWRS Bottled Water Campaign spanned a year and included a Hollywood media kick-off event, a California bottled water tour, the GWRS 10th anniversary Winter Fest celebration as thanks for local support, and the garnering of the Guinness World Records™ title for the most wastewater recycled to drinking water in 24 hours.

The two agencies collaborated on the creation of the Groundwater Replenishment System, the world’s largest advanced water purification project for drinking water. Since it came online in 2008, it has produced 282 billion gallons of near-distilled quality water that was added to the Orange County Groundwater Basin and later pumped by 19 cities and water agencies to supply 77 percent of the water needs for 2.5 million people in north and central Orange County. The GWRS currently produces 100 million gallons per day of water. Read More...

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New California Wetland Regulations

Prado WetlandsAmerican Wetlands Month is celebrated in May. The state of California has recently given us even more reason to mark the event and understand the importance of these sensitive water resources, and other waterways, such as bays, estuaries, streams, and rivers and why we need to protect them.

In April 2019, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) approved a regulation entitled “State Wetland Definition and Procedures for Discharges of Dredged or Fill Material to Waters of the State.” It comprehensively regulates waters/wetlands and expands the “wetlands” and “waters” that are now subject to regulation. Read More…

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OCWD Establishes 2019 RA Price and Quantity of Basin Pumping

OCWD Establishes Price & Quantity SignFollowing a wet winter and relatively high groundwater storage levels, the Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) Board of Directors recently established the Replenishment Assessment (RA), Basin Production Percentage (BPP) and Basin Equity Assessments (BEA).

Recommendations were made to the board based upon the information included in the “2017-18 Engineer's Report on Groundwater Conditions, Water Supply and Basin Utilization in the Orange County Water District,” (dated March 2019), and other more recent data relating to groundwater and imported water supply conditions.

The Basin Pumping Percentage remains 77%.

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OC Water Summit Price Goes Up After May 2

OC Water Summit Masthead"Water Under the Microscope” is the theme of the 12th Annual OC Water Summit, which will take place May 31 from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim. Join nearly 400 business professionals, elected officials, water industry experts, scholars, and other interested parties as this year’s event focuses on the many facets of water management and takes a closer look at the challenges and competing interests shaping local, state, national, and international water supplies.

Individual ticket prices are $130. That price will increase to $150 on May 3, 2019.

Popular NBC 4 Weathercaster Fritz Coleman will emcee this year’s Summit. Featured speakers include Dr. Jill Farrant and Willem Swart. Dr. Farrant is professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. She is a popular TED Talks speaker and leading expert on resurrection plants, which can survive without water for long periods of time. Willem Swart is project manager for the Studio of Environmental Architecture, Skysource Project. Swart worked on the Water Abundance XPrize grand prize-winning team, whose project, WEDEW, creates reliable water out of thin air. A complete list of presenters and topics can be found at the OC Water Summit website. For additional information and sponsor opportunities, contact Crystal Nettles (714)378-3202, cnettles@ocwd.com; or Tiffany Baca (714) 593-5013, tbaca@mwdoc.com.

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Leaders Commemorate Long-Term Success on the Santa Ana River

By Kristeen Farlow

Photo of SAR Watermasters attending eventIn Riverside County, right along the Santa Ana River, local leaders and community members came together to commemorate 50 years of peace along the River.  On April 12, nearly 100 people celebrated two 1969 court judgments for the water rights of the Santa Ana River that are still in place today.

In 1963, two major lawsuits were filed regarding surface water and groundwater pumping rights across the Santa Ana River Watershed that included more than 4,000 litigants.  One lawsuit was filed by the Western Municipal Water District and the other by the Orange County Water District.  To simplify the process, it was agreed there would be four representative parties: Orange County Water District, Western Municipal Water District, San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District, and Inland Empire Utilities Agency (formerly known as the Chino Basin Municipal Water District).  On April 17, 1969, both lawsuits came to an end. 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: 

  • •   President Vicente Sarmiento and Directors Denis Bilodeau and Kelly Rowe, with General Manager Mike Markus met with California State Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris. Mike provided an OCWD briefing and GWRS tour.

  • •   President Sarmiento provided welcome remarks and General Manager Mike Markus, Laboratory Director Lee Yoo and Director of Public Affairs Eleanor Torres participated on panels and presented at the 2019 WateReuse California Conference.

  • •   R&D staff were also active at the WateReuse California Conference with six projects presented by R&D staff or their collaborators, including Director of Research & & Development Megan Plumlee, Principal Scientist Jana Safarik, Postdoctoral Research Associate Ricardo Medina, and Scientist/Process Specialist Han Gu.

  • Dir. Bilodeau and OCWD Special Project Award Winners•   Director Denis Bilodeau presented medals and certificates to Orange County Science and Engineering Fair student winners of OCWD Special Awards. Senior Communications Specialist Diane Pinnick and GWRS Final Project Support Kathryn Demesa judged the innovative water-related projects that demonstrated real-world application.

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

The District’s employees are its most valuable resources. OCWD is committed to recruiting the best and enriching their lives so that they may grow within the water industry and the District family.

2019 Employee of the 1st Quarter

OCWD Human Resources is very pleased to announce that Ernie Nunez is the 2019 Employee of the 1st Quarter. 

OCWD Environmental Specialist/Data Analyst Ernie Nunez has done a great job developing working relationships with employees, producers and other agencies regarding data transmittals and processes. In July, he took on the complicated task of reconciling all monthly producer water production data and completed the task efficiently. He is a whiz at managing data using Excel spreadsheets. Using his Excel skills, Ernie developed a method to upload geologic borehole log records from a spreadsheet directly into the WRMS database, thereby streamlining a time-consuming manual data entry process. In only six months, he has updated and improved data processes. On top of his technical skills, Ernie has the positive can-do attitude that exemplifies the best of OCWD staff.

Congratulations Ernie!


PromotionDerrick Mansell

Derrick Mansell has been promoted to Chief Plant Operator. In his new role, Derrick will provide direct support for the Operations Manager by overseeing the Operations Shift Supervisors and coordinating operational activities.

Congratulations Derrick!



New Employees

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Upcoming Events

May 1 : 5:30 p.m. Board of Directors Meeting (Boardroom)

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

May 3 : 7:30 a.m. Water Advisory Committee of Orange County (WACO) Meeting (Boardroom)

May 14 : 8:00 a.m. Retirement Committee Meeting (C-2)

May 15 : 8:00 a.m. Water Issues Committee Meeting (Boardroom)

May 16 : 8:00 a.m. Administration/Finance Committee Meeting (C-2)

May 22 : 5:30 p.m. Board of Directors Meeting (Boardroom)

May 24 : noon  Property Management Committee Meeting (C-2)

May 31 : 7:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. 12th Annual OC Water Summit (Disneyland Resort)

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March Tours 

Thank you to the nearly 500 guests who toured OCWD’s facilities in March. They included students from Rancho Alamitos, Godinez, Early College, and Los Alamitos high schools; Cal State Fullerton and University of San Francisco Nursing Programs; Cal Poly Pomona; and Fullerton College. In addition, we welcomed members of EWHA Women’s University Alumnae Association of Southern California, Fountain Valley Education Center, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s Management Training program, Santa Clara Valley Water District, and 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 http://www.ocwd.com/contact-us/

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