In This Issue:
President’s Message — 2019 in Review
What a year it has been for the Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District)! Much of it has been spent actively engaged with federal and state regulators and elected and appointed officials on the issues of Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), harmful “forever” chemicals that are prevalent in the environment and were once commonly used in many consumer products. They are part of the family of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), of which there are thousands. PFOA and PFOS have made their way to water sources all across America and OCWD is working with others to be sure that sound science is the basis of determining notification and response levels. We are also working with the experts to determine how best to eradicate the contaminants, or lessen their impact, in our own groundwater.
Our staff has been at the forefront of the PFAS challenges, hosting a congressional briefing on PFAS in Orange County and providing local data to the Environmental Protection Agency. Staff is also called upon to be key speakers on the topic and have had several engagements in the U.S.
On a much lighter note, this year, we commemorated 50 years of cooperation and collaboration among five water agencies in the Santa Ana River Watershed… Read More…
Vicente Sarmiento, Esq.
OCWD Launches Nation’s Largest PFAS Pilot Program to ID Local Removal Remedy
The Orange County Water District (OCWD) recently announced the launch of its pilot program that will test various treatment options for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, a family of manmade heat and water resistant chemicals found in numerous everyday consumer products that have infiltrated groundwater supplies over several decades. While the levels of PFAS in Orange County groundwater wells are relatively low, OCWD and its retail water agencies are exploring long-term solutions to ensure that water supplies continue to meet all state and federal water quality standards.
The goal of the pilot program is to help retail water agencies in Orange County determine the best treatment methods available to them. Through the program, OCWD will be testing different types of granular activated carbon (GAC) and ion exchange (IX) products, as well as novel adsorbents just emerging in the market, to determine which applications are best suited for Orange County’s diverse aquifer water quality and geochemistry. All of the treatment methods are expected to remove PFAS from groundwater to below detectable levels.
“The pilot testing will help us design and implement the best project for Orange County to safeguard the basin and meet the needs of OCWD and its retail agencies and ratepayers,” said OCWD President Vicente Sarmiento. Read More…
The Children’s Water Education Festival Seeks Volunteers
Looking for a way to put smiles on the faces of more than 7,000 children in Orange County? The Children’s Water Education Festival is looking for hundreds of volunteers. The event takes place March 25 and 26 and there are bountiful opportunities to also help during set-up on March 24. The award-winning Festival, now in its 24th year, presents a unique opportunity to educate third, fourth and fifth grade students about local water issues and the environment and helps them understand how they can protect water supplies and their environment.
To learn more and register as a volunteer, please visit the Festival website.
Save the Date for the OC Water Summit
Mark your calendar for the 13th annual OC Water Summit, which will take place at the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at the Disneyland Resort on May 29, 2020.
Join nearly 400 business professionals, elected officials, water industry experts, and scholars to take a closer look at the challenges, solutions and competing interests in shaping local, state, national, and international water supplies.
Registration for the OC Water Summit, which is presented by the Orange County Water District and the Municipal Water District of Orange County, will begin online in January at www.ocwatersummit.com.
Wild Secrets — Parking Lot Calling Card
by Richard Zembal, natural resources director for the Orange County Water District
OCWD manages and protects the Santa Ana River Watershed through removal of nonnative invasive species, habitat restoration and wildlife management. OCWD has dedicated more than 1,100 acres of land for environmental preservation and has invested millions of dollars for conservation. The following Wild Secrets article highlights some of the many creatures that call the watershed home.
Traversing the Orange County Water District (OWD; the District) administration parking lot to the office yesterday morning, I came upon a mammalian marker in a warm, fresh heap just shy of the sidewalk. Bio-detective at work: who left it; when; and why there?
Many larger native mammals are territorial, particularly the carnivores. There’s only so much local food and the more abundant and intimidating the sign left by clan members, the less likely an intruder will linger to consume resources claimed by the local pack.
Bits of bone and fur in the droppings told of a rabbit that had lost its final race, likely corralled against the building or a fence. Size and the presence of pomegranate seeds meant the marker was left by a coyote, not a cat; like people, native dogs are omnivorous. The pile was left on the pavement less than an hour before found, possibly in response to human disturbance. Read More…
R&D Intern Monica Tejeda Receives First Helen Cuesta Scholarship
Monica Tejeda, an intern for OCWD’s research and development department, received the first award from the Helen Cuesta Scholarship Fund. The scholarship recognizes Hispanic women in STEM who face financial pressures and adversity in life. Monica is a master of civil engineering candidate from Cal State Long Beach. She also tutors K-12 students as part of the MESA (Mathematics Engineering & Science Achievement) program at the College of Engineering at Cal State Long Beach, a program from which she benefited in middle school and high school. In addition to her busy school and tutoring schedule, she has been her aging mother’s sole caretaker while being a single mother and working hard to pay for school and medical bills. On top of all that, her GPA is 3.8! Monica’s is a true inspirational story. For those who wish to learn more about or to donate to the Helen Cuesta Scholarship Fund, visit https://www.shpe.org/helen-cuesta.
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:
• Laboratory Director Lee Yoo and Supervising Chemist Prem Parmar presented at the American Water Works Association Water Quality Technology Conference in Texas. The presentation topic was “Analytical Advantages and Validation of Triple Quadrupole MS for the Determination of N- Nitrosamines in Water Reuse Process.”
- • Chief Hydrogeologist Roy Herndon presented a talk on OCWD’s seawater intrusion control program and the ongoing investigation in the Sunset Gap area to the San Diego Branch of the Groundwater Resources Association of California
- • Principal Communications Specialist Gina Ayala attended a CASA of Los Angeles event where she hosted an informational table about the District and distributed GWRS bottled water to more than 700 people.
- • The District hosted the “Completing a Successful Clean Water State Revolving Fund Application Workshop” which was held in the Phillip L. Anthony Water Quality Laboratory. Staff made arrangements with the State Water Resources Control Board Division of Financial Assistance for this workshop.
- • R&D staff, together with the National Water Research Institute (NWRI), hosted a NWRI-led Independent Expert Panel meeting in support of an ongoing project where OCWD, NWRI, Carollo, University of Arizona, and University of Tokyo and other Japanese partners are collaborating to evaluate Yokogawa’s new, fast laboratory method for measuring viruses in water samples. The team, including world-renowned virologists at the University of Arizona, believe the technology could have very useful applications for potable water reuse facilities. The project is funded by a grant from the government of Japan, including funding to OCWD.
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:
- •San Francisco Chronicle: From toilets to taps: SF tests new water recycling program by Dominic Fracassa
- •Water Online: Replenishing Through Reuse
- •Smart Water Magazine: OCWD receives leading utility of the world status
- •Water & Wastes Digest: U.S. EPA Celebrates WIFIA Project by Christina Tuser
- •Water Finance & Management: Found Water: Reuse and the Deconstruction of “Wastewater” by G. Tracy Mehan, III
- Principal Scientist Ken Ishida (Research & Development) co-authored a new publication with University of California, Riverside collaborators titled “Optimizing Potable Water Reuse Systems: Chloramines or Hydrogen Peroxide for UV-Based Advanced Oxidation Process?” The study was partially funded by a grant from The Water Research Foundation with matching funding from the District.
- Research Director Megan Plumlee and former OCWD Postdoctoral Research Associate Shannon L. Roback published a project final report, available now to subscribers of The Water Research Foundation (WRF), titled “Validation of Rapid, Low-Volume, Low-Cost NDMA Analytical Method with Potential for Online Monitoring.” The research was funded by WRF and completed by R&D and collaborators at Kagoshima University (KU) and Nagasaki University in Japan to test a prototype method developed by Prof. Kodamatani at KU, for rapid water sample analysis for NDMA. The prototype instrument has since been returned to Japan. Staff is working on a publication for a technical journal so the work will be shared with the broader scientific and engineering community.
- Dr. Plumlee also co-authored a new publication with University of Southern California (USC) collaborators titled “Background Antibiotic Resistance and Microbial Communities Dominate Effects of Advanced Purified Water Recharge to an Urban Aquifer” in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters. The study is featured in a USC News article.The work showed that the advanced purification at GWRS removes wastewater-derived antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) very well, and after groundwater recharge, groundwater sampling shows reoccurrence of ARGs related to non-GWRS sources of ARGs such Santa Ana River water and natural occurrence
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.
Jan. 8 : 5:30 p.m. Board of Directors Meeting (Boardroom)
Jan. 9 : 8:00 a.m. Communications and Legislative Liaison Committee Meeting (C-2)
Jan. 10 : 7:30 a.m. Water Advisory Committee of Orange County (WACO) Meeting (Boardroom)
Jan. 13 : 5:00 p.m. GWRS Steering Committee Meeting (Boardroom)
Jan. 15 : 8:00 a.m. Water Issues Committee Meeting (Boardroom)
Jan. 16 : 8:00 a.m. Administration/Finance Committee Meeting (C-2)
Jan. 22 : 5:30 p.m. Board of Directors Meeting (Boardroom)
Jan. 22 : 8:30 a.m. Joint Planning Committee Meeting (MWDOC 101)
Jan. 24 : noon Property Management Committee Meeting (C-2)
Jan. 28 : 8:00 a.m. Retirement Committee (C-2)-TBD
Thank you to the more than 300 guests who toured OCWD’s facilities during November.
Tours were provided to representatives from Liveable Water Solutions, Australia; staff from the Costa Mesa Sanitation District; students from Basset Adult Education, Cal State Long Beach, Citrus College, Los Alamitos High School, and Cal State Long Beach nursing program; environmental studies students from the University of California, Irvine, and Irvine Valley College; and members of the general public.
Approximately 60 students from Taft Elementary School, in the city of Orange, participated in OCWD’s Next Generation Water Leaders’ program, a two-hour program that entails a hands-on water testing activity, a presentation, a GWRS tour, and a scavenger hunt for water facts through OCWD’s H20 Learning Center exhibit.
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/.
18700 Ward Street
Fountain Valley, CA 92708
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