January 2020

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 — A Year for Perfect 20-20 Vision

•   OCWD Leaders Among OC's Top 100 Influencers for 2019

•   Call for Children's Water Education Festival Presenters & Sponsors

•   GWRS is Featured in Brave Blue World Movie

•   OC Water Summit Covers the Region's Top Water Stories

•   Wild Secrets — Attracting Birds to Your Yard

•   Out in the Community

•   OCWD in the News

•   District Honors 420 Years of Service

•   OCWD Employees — Employee of the Quarter

•   Upcoming Events

•   December Tours


President’s Message — A Year for Perfect 20-20 Vision

The year 2020 conjures up the idea of a year of perfect vision in the water community and our obligation to always look forward for the benefit of those that we serve. As our Orange County Spanish forefathers would say, “Siempre Adelante.” In many of my previous messages, I have discussed the visionary and courageous water programs and projects that this agency has implemented over the preceding 87 years. Many of those efforts have been recognized the world-over as models for public health, resource sustainability, financial thrift, and environmental stewardship. 

No doubt, we here at the Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) are parochial in the sense that our mission is water, water, and more water. However, we might also take a moment to think about what indirect benefits are provided by the effective management of that important medium.  I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s on the playgrounds of Santa Ana. I remember running, riding my bike and playing ball in this city that I love. But I also remember feeling the famous Southern California smog burn in my chest and smog days where our teachers kept us inside during recess. In the 1970s we also saw the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio, burning on the nightly news. The American people had enough. Read More…

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Vicente Sarmiento, Esq.





OCWD Leaders Among OC’s Top 100 Influencers for 2019

The Orange County Register recently named Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) Director Ahmad Zahra and Executive Director of Water Quality and Technical Resources Jason Dadakis among Orange County’s 100 top influencers for 2019. This prestigious list recognizes those, both in and out of the spotlight, who have made notable actions and achievements in the county that hallmark this past year.

“This is quite an accomplishment and we are proud of the recognition that Ahmad and Jason received,” said OCWD President Vicente Sarmiento. “We’re fortunate to have these distinguished leaders as part of the OCWD family, working day in and day out to ensure that the 2.5 million people in the District’s service area have a reliable, high quality water supply.” Read More…

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Call for Children’s Water Education Festival Presenters & Sponsors

The Children’s Water Education Festival teaches about water and the environment to Orange County elementary school students in grades 3, 4 and 5 annually and is the largest event of its kind in the nation.

There are 7,500 students already registered to attend this free, day-long field trip. More than 1,000 are on a wait list. With your help as a sponsor or presenter, we might be able to accommodate them all! Read More…

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GWRS is Featured in Brave Blue World Movie

Water is vital to life on Earth. Water scarcity already affects every continent and more than 40 percent of the people on our planet, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Yet Brave Blue World, a feature length documentary narrated by actor Liam Neeson, shows hope for grand scale water fixes in the future, because many valid solutions are being used today, including the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS), which was featured in the newly released movie. Read More…

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OC Water Summit Covers the Region’s Top Water Stories

The 13th annual OC Water Summit, which will take place at the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at the Disneyland Resort on May 29, 2020, is themed “Water, Breaking News” and will feature in-depth looks at the region’s top water stories making media headlines.

Join nearly 400 business professionals, elected officials, water industry experts, and scholars to take a closer examination of the needs, challenges, solutions, and competing interests in creating and maintaining healthy water supplies.

To register for the OC Water Summit, which is presented by the Orange County Water District and the Municipal Water District of Orange County, please visit www.ocwatersummit.com.

For sponsorship opportunities, contact Crystal Nettles (714) 378-3202, cnettles@ocwd.com or Tiffany Baca (714) 593-5013, tbaca@mwdoc.com.

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Wild Secrets — Attracting Birds to Your Yard

By Richard Zembal, natural resources director for the Orange County Water District

A practicing wildlife biologist by choice, a naturalist, if you will, I took great issue and still struggle with the concept of people drawing birds into backyards with food. Do this with young wild creatures and they imprint, developing behaviors that are often not in the best interest of their long-term survival.

Feeding birds is part of today’s lifestyle in Southern California, but this can lead to problems with too many crows in neighborhoods, to the demise of smaller nesting birds; gulls and grackles defiling cars and people in parking lots; huge flocks of gulls spending more time at city dumps than the beach; majestic Canada Geese that once were iconic symbols of wildness now begging, and no longer migrating. Yet, there are millions of people with bird feeders and 30 – 40 million people purchase bird food every year. Read More…

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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: 

  • •  Recharge Planning Manager Adam Hutchinson presented "Innovations to Protect Orange County’s Water Supplies" at a Groundwater Foundation Symposium that was part of the National Groundwater Association’s Annual Meeting in Las Vegas.

  • •  Director of Water Quality Patrick Versluis spoke at a PFAS technical seminar hosted at Chino Basin Water Conservation District. The title of the event was "PFAS Source Water Contamination Santa Ana Regional Watershed Scope and Solutions."

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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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District Honors 420 Years of Service

The Orange County Water District recently honored 29 employees for a collective 420 years of service.

At five, 10, 15, 20 and subsequent intervals of 5, OCWD distinguishes its workers with pins to mark their hard work.

The following are this year’s honorees: 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 4th Quarter — Brian Okey

Brian Okey, Water Quality Department Senior Environmental Specialist, is the 2019 Employee of the 4th Quarter!

Brian went the extra mile this year with his motivation and dedication to successfully complete an extremely rigorous and demanding water quality monitoring schedule for the drinking water compliance for the OCWD Producers. This year, the drinking water program covered two major compliance programs (TITLE22 and UCMR4) at the same time - often requiring Brian to come in early and stay late most days to complete required water quality monitoring work. Without complaint, Brian met the challenge of these two programs head on with an extremely positive and can-do attitude.

It was already one of the busiest sampling years for Brian in his 28 years of service and then PFAS compliance sampling was added to the mix.  Read More…


Congratulations to retiree Marsha Westropp for her 12 years of service!
We are fortunate to have had you as part of our OCWD team.

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Upcoming Events

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

Feb. 6 : 8:00 a.m. Communications and Legislative Liaison Committee Meeting (C-2)

Feb. 7 : noon  Water Advisory Committee of Orange County (WACO) Meeting (Boardroom)

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

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

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

Feb. 28 : 12:00 p.m. Property Management Committee (C-2)

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December Tours 









Thank you to the nearly 400 guests who toured OCWD’s facilities during December.

Tours were provided to a delegation of Chinese engineers representing Power China and Sinohydro; students from the Cal State Long Beach nursing program; employees from Triad Engineering; Hossein Sakinejad; and members of the general public.

Students from Talbert Middle School, Taft Elementary, Fitz Intermediate, and Sts. Simon and Jude Catholic School, and Buena Park Jr. High 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/

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                                                                      Fountain Valley, CA 92708

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