May 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—Infrastructure Priorities for OC

•   OCWD Awards $3,000 to OC Science & Engineering Fair Students

•   Alternative to New Tax on Water

•   June 8 is World Oceans Day

•   Research and Development Biannual Project Update

•   OC Water Summit Last Chance!

•   Out in the Community

•   OCWD in the News

•   OCWD Employees

•   Upcoming Events

•   April Tours



President’s Message — Infrastructure Priorities for OC

A tremendous thank you to Congressman Harley Rouda for assembling a panel to discuss Orange County infrastructure priorities. I appreciated the opportunity to speak on the future of water infrastructure for the Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) so that we may continue to provide a reliable, high quality water supply to the 2.5 million people we serve.

The following are key points I shared as a panel member that day and they include the reasons why funding for water infrastructure is crucial to Orange County’s longevity: Read More…

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Vicente Sarmiento, Esq.






OCWD Awards $3,000 to OC Science & Engineering Fair Students

The Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) awarded $3,000 in cash prizes to participating students at the 2019 Orange County Science & Engineering Fair (OCSEF) for outstanding and innovative water-related projects with real-world applications. Board Members handed out checks to the 10 winning teams and individuals at the May 1 OCWD Board Meeting.

OCSEF is an annual event organized to encourage the youth of Orange County to learn about science and engineering and to consider a career in these fields. OCSEF is a non-profit, run completely by unpaid volunteers comprised of working and retired scientists, engineers and educators.

According to OCWD President Vicente Sarmiento, “OCSEF is a program that the District Board feels strongly about to advance science, technology, engineering, and math careers; and proudly supports it with the yearly special award funding for water-related projects.”  Read More...

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Alternative to New Tax on Water

The issue of funding for safe drinking water solutions for disadvantaged communities is very active at the State Capitol.  And it is the current policy of the state that every human being has the right to safe, clean, affordable, and accessible water adequate for human consumption, cooking, and sanitary purposes.  For all community water systems, the operation and maintenance costs to supply, treat and distribute potable water that complies with federal and state drinking water standards on a routine and consistent basis may be significant.

Some community water systems in disadvantaged communities that do not have access to safe drinking water do not have the technical, managerial or financial capacity that is needed to comply with the federal and state drinking water standards on a routine and consistent basis.

Governor Gavin Newsom's budget trailer bill language proposes a statewide water tax on local water bills and was pending in Senate Budget Subcommittee 2.

On May 15, the California Senate proposed an alternative to a new tax on water to fund safe and affordable drinking water. Read More...

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June 8 is World Oceans Day

The water cycle is critical to ensuring life on Earth and the ocean plays a large role in it. Ocean water evaporates, clouds form and rains fall over the land, providing a source of drinking water, creating edible plants for sustenance and forests that supply protection.

The ocean, itself, offers bountiful supplies of food and items used to make our lives more comfortable, such as seaweed that is added to everything from toothpastes, to shampoos and cosmetic products. The sea also gives us oxygen and regulates our climate and it may someday be more widely depended upon for desalinated water.

Keeping the ocean healthy means a better future. But our oceans are facing a number of threats that could cause irreparable damage. June 8 is World Oceans Day, a day to honor the ocean and plan for a better future.

Plan an event and download free resources by visiting the World Oceans Day website.

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Research and Development Biannual Project Update

By R&D Director Megan Plumlee, P.E., Ph.D.

In April, the Research & Development (R&D) Department released its biannual R&D Project Update Report to OCWD senior management and Board of Directors. The purpose of the report is to summarize the findings and status of current R&D projects and programs at the District, as well as to note any conference presentations and scientific publications by R&D staff in the last reporting period.

Currently, R&D staff are conducting 28 different projects and programs. These cover topics spanning the water quality of potable reuse (five projects), pilot-scale treatment testing of new products that could be implemented in the GWRS plant (three programs), pilot-scale treatment testing of research innovations (six projects), method development for measuring N-nitrosodimethylamine (one project), research on aspects of the GWRS advanced treatment process such as demonstrating virus removal and optimizing the ultraviolet-advanced oxidation process (10 projects), and groundwater recharge optimization and monitoring (three projects). Virtually all of these projects are collaborative in nature, with R&D staff working with technology companies, engineering consultants, universities, and funding agencies. The R&D staff include research scientists and engineers, postdoctoral research associates, a pilot operator, and interns.

The summary report allows OCWD managers and directors to stay up to date on the latest R&D activities and learn who are the current partners. Read More...

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OC Water Summit Last Chance!

This is your final opportunity to sign up for the 12th Annual OC Water Summit, which takes 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. Individual ticket prices are $150 for the event that features an impressive list of water-industry speakers, a continental breakfast, lunch, and parking.

Join nearly 400 business professionals, elected officials, water industry experts, scholars, and other interested parties as this year’s event, themed “Water Under the Microscope,” which 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.

Popular NBC4 Weathercaster Fritz Coleman is this year’s Summit emcee. Topics range from reviving and continuing to harness the Santa Ana and Los Angeles rivers, water contaminants of emerging concern and major water storage options, to significant investments needed to help sustain current water supplies and create new sources. The OC Water Summit features local and international experts to explain and provide answers to the issues that guide industry news.

A complete list of presenters and topics can be found at the OC Water Summit website. For additional information, 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: 

  • •   President Vicente Sarmiento and Directors Cathy Green, Jordan Brandman, Ahmad Zahra, Kelly Rowe and General Manager Mike Markus provided an OCWD briefing and GWRS tour to Senator Tom Umberg.
  • • Director Ahmad Zahra and General Manager Mike Markus gave an OCWD briefing and GWRS tour to U.S. Congresswoman Katie Porter’s District Director Kelly Jones.
  • •  Board Director Tri Ta and Special Projects Director Bill Hunt gave a presentation to the Leisure World Physical Property Council Board Meeting about the GWRS and Orange County’s water supply.

    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.

Celebrating OCWD Administrative Professionals Day 2019

Thank you to our administrative staff for your hard work to keep this place running. We couldn’t do it without you!


Congratulations to our retiree Jeannie Young. We salute you for your tireless 16 years of service to the people of Orange County and wish you well in the years ahead.


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Upcoming Events

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

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

June 6 : 12:00 p.m. Communications/Legislative Committee Meeting (C-2)

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

June 12 : 8:00 a.m. Water Issues Committee Meeting (Boardroom)

June 13 : 8:00 a.m. Administration/Finance Committee Meeting (C-2)

June 19 : 5:30 p.m. Board of Directors Meeting (Boardroom)

June 28 : noon  Property Management Committee Meeting (C-2)

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April Tours 

Thank you to the more than 400 guests who toured OCWD’s facilities in April. They included nursing students from Cal State Long Beach; students from the University of Southern California, Cal State Fullerton, Orange Coast College, Buena Park Junior High School; and Edison, Port of Los Angeles and Servite high school students. We also welcomed staff from Abu Dhabi Water Resources Management, LEF Ingenieros/Desalitech, Hydranautics, California Department of Social Services, and ATCO Canadian Energy Utility; members of the Walnut Village Retirement Community; 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

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