March 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—OCWD's is First Public Agency Lab in State to Receive Certification for PFOA and PFOS Detection

•   Fullerton Appoints Ahmad Zahra to OCWD Board of Directors

•   Assistant GM Mike Wehner is Honored for Service and Industry Contributions

•   RSVP by March 27 to Attend 50th Anniversary of SAR Water Rights

•   Become an OC Water Summit Sponsor

•   Out in the Community

•   OCWD in the News

•   OCWD Employees

•   Upcoming Events

•   February Tours



President’s Message — OCWD’s is First Public Agency Lab in State to Receive Certification for PFOA and PFOS Detection

Philip L. Anthony Water Quality LaboratoryI am very pleased to inform our readers that Orange County Water District’s (OCWD’s) Philip L. Anthony Water Quality Laboratory is the first public agency laboratory in California to achieve state certification to analyze for per- and polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water. 

The PFAS family of chemicals includes perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) contaminants.  Certification was granted by the Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ELAP) administered by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB).

The lab had previously received certification from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to test drinking water in accordance with EPA Method 537 that determines the concentration of selected perfluorinated alkyl acids, such as PFOA and PFOS. This certification was received as part of the EPA’s Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR) 3 program, with the OCWD lab being only one of three public agency labs nationally to be certified for all UCMR3 methods.

Operating the first public agency lab in California to achieve state ELAP certification for Method 537 is the result of OCWD’s commitment to exceptional water quality. OCWD tests water for over 500 compounds, while only 109 of those compounds are required to be regulated by state and federal law. Read More…

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Vicente Sarmiento, Esq.






Fullerton Appoints Ahmad Zahra To OCWD Board of Directors

Ahmad Zahra was appointed to the Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) Board of Directors by the Fullerton City Council to represent Division 10, the city of Fullerton. Zahra was officially sworn into office at the March 6 OCWD Board of Directors meeting. Zahra replaces council member Bruce Whitaker who recently served two years on OCWD’s Board and served a prior term from 2012-2014.

“I am honored to represent the residents of Fullerton to ensure a high quality and reliable water supply for generations to come,” said Zahra.  “I look forward to working with my colleagues to continue to guide the District in implementing policies, projects and programs that promote water reliability for the 2.5 million people it serves.”

Zahra was elected in 2018 to a four-year term on the Fullerton City Council to represent District 5. He has been a resident of Fullerton and District 5 since 2001. Read More...

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Assistant GM Mike Wehner is Honored for Service and Industry Contributions

Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) Assistant General Manager Michael (Mike) P. Wehner retired after 28 years of service to the District and more than 40 years of contributions to the fields of water reuse, water quality and water resource management.

Mike’s knowledge of potable reuse water quality is unparalleled. He was crucial to the success of OCWD’s world-renowned recycling projects, Water Factory 21 and its successor the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS), which is the world’s largest potable reuse project of its kind.

“Mike helped establish the professional standard for scientific rigor and transparency that have instilled public confidence in potable reuse in Orange County and beyond,” said OCWD President Vicente Sarmiento. “We applaud Mike for all that he has done in helping to shape the District’s tradition of innovation. His accomplishments to the industry are many and are significant. On behalf of the board of directors and staff, I would like to thank and congratulate Mike and wish him much success in his retirement.” Read More…

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RSVP by March 27 to Attend 50th Anniversary of SAR Water Rights

It’s been 50 years of cooperation and collaboration among five water agencies in the Santa Ana River Watershed: Orange County Water District, San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District, Inland Empire Utilities Agency, Eastern Municipal Water District, and Western Municipal Water District to bring Santa Ana River water to Orange County and its groundwater basin. The Orange County Groundwater Basin supplies about 75 percent of the water needs for north and central orange county.

A celebration of the agreement and five-decade effective management of the watershed will take place in Norco on Friday, April 12 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The program includes lunch. Reservations are required. Click on the invitation or visit no later than March 27 to register to attend. Should you have any questions, please contact Mallory Gandara at or (951)571-7296.

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Become an OC Water Summit Sponsor

OC Water Summit logo and themeWe are currently seeking sponsorships for the 2019 OC Water Summit that takes place May 31 from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Grand Californian Hotel and Spa at the Disneyland Resort, Anaheim.

This is your opportunity to reach hundreds of influencers in the water industry, business, government, and community leaders from throughout Southern California and beyond. Depending on the category, your company name and/or logo will show prominently in the program, the event website, on slides during the Summit program, and more.

Co-hosted by the Orange County Water District (OCWD) and Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC), this one-of-a-kind event engages experts and influencers in discussion of new and ongoing water supply challenges, water policy issues, and other important water-related topics that impact our economy and public health. By sponsoring the OC Water Summit, you are investing in water reliability for Southern California.

There are several opportunities still available for Session ($2,500), Associate ($2,000), Table ($1,600), Breakfast ($1,200), and Exhibit Table ($1,000). View the OC Water Summit website for further information. You can also contact Crystal Nettles (714) 378-3202, or Tiffany Baca (714) 593-5013,

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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: 

  • •   Directors Vicente Sarmiento, Denis Bilodeau, Kelly Rowe, and Jordan Brandman; General Manager Mike Markus and Legislative Affairs Liaison Alicia Dunkin met with Orange County Supervisor Doug Chaffee to provide a District briefing.

    •   President Vicente Sarmiento and Directors Cathy Green and Kelly Rowe; Executive Director of Engineering John Kennedy and GWRS Project Manager Sandy Scott-Roberts met with United States Congressman Harley Rouda and provided a District briefing.

  • •   California State Senator Bob Archuleta met with President Vicente Sarmiento and Directors Cathy Green, Kelly Rowe, Denis Bilodeau, Dina Nguyen, Jordan Brandman, and Roger Yoh; and Mike Markus for an OCWD briefing and GWRS tours.

    •   Directors Cathy Green, Tri Ta, Dina Nguyen, and Jordan Brandman; Mike Markus and Alicia Dunkin met with California State Assemblyman Tyler Diep to provide a District briefing.

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:

•   Scinor Water America, LLC: 2018 - Year in Review

•   Harley Rouda: It was a pleasure to tour @ocwdwaternews and learn more about their efforts to create a sustainable water supply…

•   Your So Cal Tap Water: Congratulations Orange County Water District and Orange County Sanitation District on receiving a Silver Mercury Award for the #GWRS Bottled Water Campaign! Well done!

•   Water Online: Orange County Water District Director Denis Bilodeau To Be Inducted Into University Of California, Irvine Engineering Hall Of Fame

•   Water World: Orange County Water District Project Receives American Society of Civil Engineers Water Treatment Project of the Year Award

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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.


This month, we celebrate the retirement of two dedicated workers who, collectively, shared 60 years with the Orange County Water District.

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Upcoming Events

April 3 : 5:30 p.m. Board of Directors Meeting (Boardroom)

April 4 : 8:00 a.m. Communications/Legislative Committee Meeting (C-2)

April 5 : 7:30 a.m. Water Advisory Committee of Orange County (WACO) Meeting (Boardroom)

April 8 : 5:00 p.m. GWRS Steering Committee Meeting (Boardroom)

April 10 : 8:00 a.m. Water Issues Committee Meeting (Boardroom)

April 11 : 8:00 a.m. Administration/Finance Committee Meeting (C-2)

April 17 : 5:30 p.m. Board of Directors Meeting (Boardroom)

April 26 :  noon  Property Management Committee Meeting (C-2)

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February Tours 

Thank you to the more than 500 guests who toured OCWD’s facilities in February. They included students from ERDT enVision and Grace Christian Academy; Brea-Olinda, Huntington Beach, Katella, San Clemente and Santiago high schools; Cal State Fullerton, the UCI Exchange Student Program/Shibaura Institute of Technology in Japan, and Vanguard, Western Governors University and CSU, Fullerton nursing programs. In addition, we welcomed members of the Retired Old Men Eating Out (ROMEO) Club, Association of California Water Agencies, the Association of California Cities-Orange County, the CalCUPA Conference; Congressman Harley Rouda and staff and State Senator Bob Archuleta and staff.

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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