October 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 — Happy 150th Anniversary to Santa Ana

•   OCWD Wins AMWA Gold Award for Exceptional Utility Performance

•   Philip L. Anthony Laboratory Celebrates 10 Years

•   Mr. Dadakis Goes to Washington

•   Wild Secrets — The Western Grebe

•   Groundwater Adventure Tour Was a Hole in One

•   Children's Water Education Festival Accepting Presenters

•   Out in the Community

•   OCWD Employees

•   Upcoming Events

•   September Tours


President’s Message — Happy 150th Anniversary to Santa Ana

The city of Santa Ana celebrated its 150th anniversary of remarkable history on Oct. 27, 2019. I am pleased to be a councilmember and the one appointed to serve the Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) on its board of directors.

There are three OCWD board members who are appointed rather than elected. They are those representing Santa Ana, Fullerton and Anaheim. The reason is part of my city’s rich history and I’d like to, first, share some of its highlights with you.

The earliest known origins of what is now the city of Santa Ana revolve around the tribal Tongva and Juaneno/Luiseno people who were indigenous to the area.

The city of Santa Ana was listed as a township of Los Angeles County in the 1860 census, when its population totaled only 756 people. Then, in 1869, William H. Spurgeon claimed the Santa Ana land, obtained from the descendants of Jose Antonio Yorba, and the “Golden City” of Santa Ana was founded. Santa Ana was incorporated as a city in 1886 and in 1889 became the seat of the newly formed Orange County. Read More…

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Vicente Sarmiento, Esq.





OCWD Wins AMWA Gold Award For Exceptional Utility Performance

The Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) received the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies’ (AMWA) 2019 Gold Award for Exceptional Utility Performance. The presentation was made on October 21 at AMWA's Executive Management Conference in Newport, Rhode Island.

The AMWA Gold Awards for Exceptional Utility Performance recognize the large public drinking water systems that exhibit high levels of performance in the areas of product quality, customer satisfaction, employee and leadership development, operational optimization, financial viability, community sustainability, enterprise resiliency, infrastructure strategy and performance, stakeholder understanding and support, and water resource sustainability. Gold Award winners also show achievement in the areas of leadership, strategic business planning, knowledge management, measurement, and continual improvement management. The honor was bestowed by a distinguished panel of peer judges for OCWD’s significant contribution to the drinking water industry.  Read More…

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Philip L. Anthony Laboratory Celebrates 10 Years

The Orange County Water District’s Philip L. Anthony Water Quality Laboratory recently celebrated its 10th anniversary and a large number of staff and board members were on hand for the festivities. OCWD President Vicente Sarmiento spoke before the enthusiastic crowd, commemorating the anniversary and thanking the staff for its part in elevating the Lab’s stature to a premier facility in the water industry.

Formerly known as the Advanced Water Quality Assurance Laboratory, the Lab was renamed in 2018 to honor the District’s longest serving board member, Philip Anthony, who passed away in that year. Anthony, who had a background in chemistry, played an important role in pioneering projects that have now become standard water industry tools to combat drought and water shortages—including water reuse. Read More…

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Mr. Dadakis Goes to Washington

Orange County Water District Executive Director of Water Quality & Technical Resources Jason Dadakis participated as an invited panelist at a two-day workshop in Washington, DC, titled “Understanding, Controlling, and Preventing Exposures to PFAS.” It was hosted by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine through their Environmental Health Matters Initiative. The workshop covered topics including PFAS exposure pathways, treatment of PFAS contaminated media (e.g., water, soil, air), controlling and preventing PFAS exposures, and challenges/opportunities for progress.

Read More…

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Wild Secrets—The Western Grebe

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 invested millions of dollars for conservation. The following article highlights just one of the many creatures that call the watershed home.

Countless wild creatures thrive in the habitat that grows along the channels and basins OCWD maintains to convey water to the people we serve. One of those creatures is a bird, the Western Grebe that eats fish and attempts to nest in remote OCWD basin nooks. These birds are black and white with a 2-foot wingspan and a croaky trumpeting call that echoes across the Santiago Basins in spring; for me that call is the sound of the wild in the OC. (Our lowland version of the cry of the Loon on a Sierra Lake.) Mated pairs perform a “Rushing Ceremony” that you can watch on YouTube, with arched necks they run on the water side-by-side, then dive, and mate. They attempt to nest in partly submerged tree limbs along an inlet that passes water from the basin to Santiago Creek during high water conditions. Those conditions generally don’t last long enough, and nests fail. OCWD staff goes to great lengths to effectively manage wildlife in permit compliance but occasionally just to accommodate such a beautiful, charismatic species. Staff has designed and planted little nesting islands that have been used successfully but it’s a work in progress. A new design will soon be deployed; cross your fingers.

This wildlife article was written by Richard Zembal, natural resources director for the Orange County Water District (OCWD), whose award-winning environmental programs benefit both nature and water supplies.

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Groundwater Adventure Tour Was a Hole in One

The Groundwater Adventure Tour, a yearly highlight that examines Orange County Water District (OCWD) facilities throughout Southern California, was enjoyed by nearly 150 state legislators, community leaders, local residents, educators, and water industry professionals.

Participants were able to hear and speak with a number of experts in the fields of chemistry, biology, water conservation, water reuse, engineering, operations, and more. Guests first toured the celebrated Philip L. Anthony Water Quality Laboratory and the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) in Fountain Valley. The GWRS is the world’s largest advanced water purification project for potable reuse. They then visited Anaheim recharge basins, where water from the Santa Ana River and the GWRS are placed and where these waters percolate down into the vast Orange County Groundwater Basin. In Riverside County at the Prado Wetlands—the largest manmade wetlands in California, they got to see, firsthand, wildlife of the wetlands, and some had the extra fun of getting their hands dirty by digging holes and planting native flowering shrubs that attract butterflies in the Prado Wetland Interpretive Garden.

OCWD Directors Vicente Sarmiento, Cathy Green, Jordan Brandman, and Ahmad Zahra welcomed guests and were on hand to answer questions during the day’s event.

Photos from the day may be viewed on Facebook. Missed the Groundwater Adventure Tour but still want to tour OCWD facilities?  The District offers tours of its world-renowned Groundwater Replenishment System throughout the year and the Prado Wetlands during the spring months. Visit the OCWD book a tour page for more information.

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Children's Water Education Festival Accepting Presenters

Teach our youth that they can make a difference in this world by protecting and conserving our precious natural resources when you become a presenter at the 24th Annual Children’s Water Education Festival, to be held at the University of California, Irvine on March 25-26, 2020.

The award-winning event is recognized nationally as the largest of its kind. This year, 7,500 third, fourth and fifth grade students and their teachers from throughout Orange County will attend. Festival is presented by the Orange County Water District, Disneyland Resort, National Water Research Institute and the Orange County Water District Groundwater Guardian Team.

Classes are carefully scheduled into 20-minute hands-on activities and interactive presentations throughout the day. Group sizes for standard booths are 45 students. All presentations should support Next Generation Science Standards.

Activity lessons are to focus on educating students about the Earth’s environment, including water, air quality, and energy; outer space; and general science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

To be a presenter, contact Crystal Nettles at (714) 378-3257 or cnettles@ocwd.com. For additional information visit https://www.childrenwaterfestival.com/PresentersLetter.aspx.

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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 and Denis Bilodeau, General Manager Mike Markus and OCWD’s federal legislative consultants met with members of Congress and staff from pertinent committees and federal agencies in Washington, D.C. to advocate for District priorities. 

  • •  Director Cathy Green and Executive Director of Engineering John Kennedy presented to the Delta Stewardship Council about OCWD.
  • •  Director Steve Sheldon and John Kennedy provided a presentation to Newport Beach Council Member Joy Brenner, City Manager Grace Leung and Utilities Director Mark Vukojevic.

  • •  Mike Markus presented at WEFTEC 2019 about membranes for water reuse. Director of Recharge & Wetlands Operations John Bonsangue also participated in WEFTEC and was on a panel about managing aquifers. 

  • •  John Kennedy provided a presentation about OCWD to the Probus Club in Placentia.

  • •  Laboratory Director Lee Yoo participated in the 7th Busan Global Water Forum and spoke about water quality monitoring and future water reuse requirements.

Read More…

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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 3rd Quarter—Daniel Salas

Daniel Salas, LIMS & QA/QC administrator, is the 2019 Employee of the 3rd Quarter! 

Daniel quickly understood the Philip L. Anthony Water Quality Laboratory’s (Lab) 15 year-old Aspen LIMS software and helped create new data import interfaces with the Information Systems team for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Methods 524.2-R (VOC analysis), 537 (PFAS) and several UCMR 4 (Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule) methods: 525.3, 530, 541, 552.3 and 200.8. He also managed the effort to create a tool to transfer UCMR data electronically to the EPA.

In addition, Daniel oversaw the creation of the new Method Detection Limit (MDL) calculation tool and created reports to ensure QC goals are met and samples are completed on time. He successfully prepared a new project delivery and phased implementation schedule for a new Matrix LIMS and restarted the implementation program that hadn’t progressed for almost nine months. He created a detailed checklist and configured each testing method in Phase 1A of Matrix LIMS implementation and has organized a group of Lab staff for User Acceptance Testing (UAT) and parallel testing with ASPEN—from logging in samples to final reports. Read More…

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Upcoming Events

Nov. 1 : 7:30 a.m. Water Advisory Committee of Orange County (WACO) Meeting (Boardroom)

Nov. 6 : 5:30 p.m. Board of Directors Meeting (Boardroom)

Nov. 7 : 8:00 a.m. Communications/Legislative Liaison Committee Meeting (C-2)

Nov. 8 : Noon Groundbreaking of the Final Expansion for the GWRS (R.O. Building)

Nov. 13 : 8:00 a.m. Water Issues Committee Meeting (Boardroom)

Nov. 14 : 8:00 a.m. Administration/Finance Committee Meeting (C-2)

Nov. 20 : 5:30 p.m. Board of Directors Meeting (Boardroom)

Nov. 22 : noon  Property Management Committee Meeting (C-2)

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September Tours 

Thank you to the more than 300 guests who toured OCWD’s facilities during September.

Tours were provided to a Newport Beach council member, general manager and utilities director; staff of Triad Engineering and their Chinese clients, staff from Hazen and Sawyer accompanied by engineers from South Africa; representatives from Seoul Water District; staff from Central Contra Costa Sanitary District, Costa Mesa Sanitary District, Division of Drinking Water, the city of Escondido, American Water Chemicals, and JEA; nursing students from Cal State Long Beach and from Cal State Fullerton; students from Cal State Long Beach; members of the Chinese Institute of Environmental Sciences; student and professor researchers from the University of Tokyo, Yokogawa Electric Corporation, and other partner organizations; members of the GWRS Independent Advisory Panel, Delta Stewardship Council and the California Special District Association’s Annual Conference; members of the Board of Directors for the Moulton Niguel Water District; and members of 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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                                                                      Fountain Valley, CA 92708

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