September 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 — California Water Professionals Appreciation Week Oct. 3-11

•   OCWD and EPA Save Ratepayers $79.4 Million

•   EPA Designates North Basin a Superfund Site

•   District Reduces Electricity Use During Heatwaves

•   Hearts to Heroes Volunteers Provide PPE to OCWD

•   Mehul Patel Presents About Financing Strategies at WateReuse Symposium

•   Take the Clean Air Day Pledge

•   PFAS Update

•   Nuts and Bolts

•   Research and Development Publication

•   Out in the Community

•   OCWD in the News

•   Upcoming Events

•   Tours


President’s Message — Water Professional Appreciation Week Oct. 3-11

Water is the lifeblood of Orange County and without high-quality and reliable water, no community and no sector of the economy – from high tech to manufacturing to agriculture – can thrive or expand.

Dedicated teams of planners, engineers, water quality specialists, technicians, and other water professionals have built and maintained the systems to guarantee that when your tap is turned on, good, clean water flows freely and abundantly.

California Water Professionals Appreciation Week, Oct. 3-11, 2020, is an exciting occasion to showcase the ‘people behind the pipes’ throughout the state and an opportunity to highlight rewarding careers in the water industry and cultivate the next generation of water leaders.

I would like to thank all of the 225 employees at the Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) who deserve recognition not only during this week, but every day. Read More…

Vicente Sarmiento, Esq.



Back to Top


OCWD and EPA Save Ratepayers $79.4 Million

Joined by leadership from the Orange County Water District (OCWD; Water District) and Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD; Sanitation District), U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler toured the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) on Sept. 3, 2020, where he announced a joint effort that will save ratepayers $79.4 million. Officials from EPA and the Water District made this savings possible by updating a Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan that was granted to OCWD for use toward the construction of the GWRS Final Expansion.

In 2018, EPA granted a $135 million WIFIA loan to OCWD to help finance the 30-million-gallon-per-day (MGD) final expansion of the GWRS, a $282 million project. The initial 70 MGD GWRS project came online in 2008, followed by a 30 MGD expansion in 2015. The second and final expansion of the GWRS will make the world’s largest reuse project even bigger, taking it to its ultimate capacity of 130 MGD ― enough water to meet the daily needs of 1 million people. Read More…

Back to Top


EPA Designates North Basin a Superfund Site

On Sept, 1, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the addition of the Orange County North Basin Site (the Site) to the National Priorities List (NPL), sometimes referred to as the Superfund List. NPL listing serves as the basis for prioritizing EPA Superfund cleanup funding and enforcement actions. The Site includes parts of Anaheim, Fullerton and Placentia, and is part of the larger Orange County Groundwater Basin (Basin) managed by the Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District). The Basin is a regional asset that provides up to 77% of the water for 2.5 million residents in north and central Orange County. Read More…

Back to Top


District Reduces Electricity Use During Heatwaves

The Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) did its part to save energy during August and September heatwaves by voluntarily reducing its electricity use. The Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS), created by OCWD and the Orange County Sanitation District, is the world’s largest water reuse project. It is managed by OCWD. By temporarily lowering water production of the GWRS to 15 million gallons per day, OCWD reduced its daily electricity use from an average of 17 megawatts to five megawatts, saving 150 megawatts hours of power over a five-day period, Aug. 14-18, and saving 50 megawatt hours of power over a two-day period, Sept. 4 and 5.

“We’re committed to doing the right thing for the 2.5 million people in our service area and our actions often transcend water. As a member of the Orange County community we were proud to do our part to help free up much needed power for Orange County residents, and the region, during recent triple-digit temperatures,” said OCWD President Vicente Sarmiento. Read More…

Back to Top


Hearts to Heroes Volunteers Provide PPE to OCWD

Hearts to Heroes, a non-profit organization committed to giving back to essential worker heroes, stopped by the Orange County Water District recently to donate 200 face shields and 200 care packages.

“It is my great pleasure to extend a warm thank you for this kind and generous donation to the essential working staff of the Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District),” said OCWD President Vicente Sarmiento.

“I commend the Hearts to Heroes volunteers and staff on their commitment to giving back to essential workers by donating over 20,000 sanitized PPE products and mor­e than 750 sealed care packages with snacks and notes all over California. OCWD is honored to be recognized and to receive their thoughtful and generous gift,” he added.

Hearts to Heroes is currently supporting essential employees during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing PPE face shields and care packages that include handwritten notes, snacks, and other products to help lift workers’ spirits. Through involvement in Hearts to Heroes, volunteers develop adaptive leadership and effective communication skills that channel into community outreach efforts. Volunteers of all ages are encouraged to participate and aid in the assembly of item donations. To gain more information about the organization and its volunteer opportunities, visit

Back to Top


Mehul Patel Presents About Financing Strategies at WateReuse Symposium

Orange County Water District Executive Director of Operations/GWRS Mehul Patel, P.E., presented about water reuse financing strategies at WateReuse Symposium 2020, which was held, virtually, Sept. 14-16.

Mehul joined Wendy Broley, P.E., One Water leader, Brown & Caldwell; Zahir Hirani, principal, Stantec Inc.; Mark Hunsaker, director of applications engineering, Evoqua Water Technologies; Patrick Regan, vice president, Evoqua Water Technologies; Andrew Salveson, water reuse technical practice director, Carollo Engineers; and Russel Swerdfeger, global marketing manager-municipal, DuPont Water Solutions for a session called “ReUse: Tales From the Trenches & When Projects Make Cents.”

Registered WateReuse Symposium 2020 participants will be able to view tapes of this session and others through Oct. 24 by visiting the Symposium website.

Back to Top


Take the Clean Air Day Pledge

October 7 is California Clean Air Day, built on the idea that shared experiences unite people to action to improve our community health. By joining together for a unified day of action we can create new habits to clear the air for all members of California’s diverse communities.

The Coalition for Clean Air invites you to take the Clean Air Pledge today and forward your confirmation email to to receive your prize, a reusable cotton mask, while supplies last.

Prizes will be mailed to participants; the campaign runs until October 8.

Back to Top


PFAS Update

Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) are chemicals that are prevalent in the environment and were once commonly used in many consumer products. They are part of a larger group referred to as per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Due to the prolonged use of PFOA and PFOS, the chemicals are now being detected in the environment, including water sources throughout the United States. 

PFAS have been detected in the Orange County Groundwater Basin. OCWD provides regular PFAS updates to community stakeholders to inform them of the proactive measures that the District and retail water agencies are taking to address PFAS in the Basin. 

For more background information and the newest monthly update visit September Update

For additional information, please visit OCWD’s PFOS/PFOA Resources page. 

Back to Top

Nuts & Bolts ­­

The Nuts & Bolts column features OCWD construction updates each month. This month’s column features the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) Final Expansion.





Back to Top 



Research and Development Publication

Principal Scientist Ken Ishida’s published study, in collaboration with Trojan Technologies, was selected as one of the top 10% of recent papers in Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology, based on the exceptionally positive referee reports received during peer review along with the editor’s assessment of the significance and impact of the paper. The paper is titled “UV/chlorine vs. UV/H2O2 for water reuse at Orange County Water District, CA: a pilot study.”

Back to Top


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 virtual events: 

  • • Following introductory remarks from Director Tri Ta, Chief of Hydrogeology Roy Herndon provided an update to the Seal Beach City Council on OCWD's Sunset Gap Seawater Intrusion Investigation and proposed monitoring well pair at Gum Grove Park parking lot.

  • •  Dr. Megan Plumlee, director of research, spoke during WES 2020 about OCWD's PFAS pilot study. The conference was hosted by the CA-NV division of American Water Works Association (AWWA).

  • •  Dr. Plumlee also presented findings from the PFAS Treatment Study to the city of Anaheim for consideration in its design of PFAS treatment systems for impacted drinking water production wells.

  • • Exec. Dir. of Planning & Natural Resources Greg Woodside gave a presentation on the Prado Forecast-Informed Reservoir Operations (FIRO) at a Scripps-hosted virtual workshop on FIRO.


Back to Top



OCWD in the News

OCWD continues to be recognized for its leadership in the water industry.  Below are the District’s recent media highlights that feature OCWD and the GWRS:

Back to Top


Upcoming Events

Please be advised that District facilities are temporarily closed to the public in response to COVID-19. Members of the public may participate in public meetings via Zoom. Information on how to participate is listed at the top of each agenda found in the “Next meeting” box on the District's meeting agenda site.

Back to Top



In an effort to safeguard the health and safety of its employees and the community and continue its popular tour program during the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Orange County Water District is offering virtual tours of the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) in webinar format.

Six tours were held during the month of August.
D­irector Ahmad Zahra, Executive Director of Operations/GWRS Mehul Patel and Senior Communications Specialist Kira Erquiaga provided a virtual tour of the GWRS to 48 attendees, including Former U.S. Secretary of the Interior and Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt. General Manager Mike Markus provided a GWRS tour to members of the Orange County Grand Jury. Virtual tours of the GWRS were also provided to the United States Bureau of Reclamation and Los Angeles Sanitation District.

In addition, OCWD and Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) hosted a joint virtual webinar tour for the general public. The webinar was led by Mike Markus and OCSD General Manager Jim Herberg and featured OCSD’s treatment facilities and an in-depth look at the world renowned GWRS. The presentations were followed by live Q&A.

Generally, webinar tours are held the first Friday of every month and are open to the general public. Future tour dates are as follows:

  • Oct. 2– 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
  • Nov. 6– 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
  • Dec. 4– 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Tours for school groups and community organizations can be scheduled to accommodate group schedules. Registration is required for all tours and is available through the OCWD book a tour site.

Future dates to begin live tours will also be noted on that site when they are available.

Should you have any questions or wish to obtain more information about scheduling a tour, please contact Kira Erquiaga at

Back to Top


                                                                              CONTACT US

                                                                           18700 Ward Street
                                                                      Fountain Valley, CA 92708
Back to Top