OCWD Recognized as Utility of the Future Today

The Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) has been honored with the designation of Utility of the Future Today, which celebrates the achievements of water utilities that transform from the traditional wastewater treatment system to a resource recovery center and lead in the overall sustainability and resilience of the communities they serve.

Utility of the Future Today was launched in 2016 by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), the Water Environment Federation (WEF), The Water Research Foundation (WRF) and the WateReuse Association, with input from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“The Orange County Water District is extremely proud of this new designation,” said OCWD President Vicente Sarmiento. “Our agency has pioneered groundwater management for more than 80 years and water reuse for nearly 40 years. OCWD's Board of Directors and staff take on the water challenges of today and prepare to meet the region's water demands for generations to come. Solid science and state-of-the-art technologies guide our decisions.”

To meet the challenges of groundwater depletion, seawater intrusion from the Pacific Ocean, and unreliable surface water supplies, OCWD, with the Orange County Sanitation District, created the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS), which came online in 2008.  It is the world’s largest advanced water purification project of its kind— purifying wastewater and providing 100 million gallons of near-distilled quality water each day. The GWRS is considered the gold standard for both indirect and direct potable reuse projects and is replicated in several U.S. cities, in Singapore and in Australia.

According to the awarding agencies, there are 43 utilities recognized this year that recover resources from wastewater, engage in their community, form unique partnerships, and build an internal culture of innovation. A total of 118 utilities have been recognized since the program started.

"Each of the Utility of the Future Today honorees represent a transformational approach to utility management that results in a ripple effect of benefits," said WEF Executive Director Eileen O'Neill. "We are delighted to celebrate their impact and proud to recognize their leadership in water sector innovation."

Honorees will be recognized during an awards ceremony at WEFTEC 2019 – WEF’s 92nd annual technical exhibition and conference – this September in Chicago and will receive a UotFT flag to display proudly at their facility, and a certificate in honor of the recognition.