Stephen R. Sheldon
First Vice President
Second Vice President
Denis R. Bilodeau, P.E.
Dina L. Nguyen, Esq.
Kelly E. Rowe, C.E.G., C.H.
Roger C. Yoh, P.E.
Michael R. Markus
• President’s Message: Water Infrastructure Projects Help Ensure Water Supply Reliability for Orange County
• Producer’s Corner: $1.6 Million DWR Grant to Help Mesa Water Enhance Local Groundwater Production Capacity
President’s Message: Water Infrastructure Projects Help Ensure Water Supply Reliability for Orange County
You may have heard about the California drought in recent news and headlines. Most recently on May 11, Governor Newsom expanded on the April 21 drought emergency proclamation which includes 41 total counties under the drought state of emergency. While this number may seem high, keep in mind this represents only 30% of the state’s population.
A statewide drought has not yet been declared and, so far, Southern California counties are not under the drought state of emergency. Recurring drought is a feature of California’s climate and rest assured that OCWD and its 19 retail water agencies plan and prepare for an occasion such as this.
For decades, OCWD’s professional staff and Board have carefully planned and invested in long-term solutions to ensure that Orange County residents and businesses have enough water for their everyday needs – drought or no drought. I’m humbled and proud to highlight a few of those water supply projects:
Enhanced Stormwater Capture at Prado Dam: Following approvals by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) for the Prado Basin Ecosystem Restoration and Water Conservation Feasibility Study (Study), OCWD is planning for increased water storage behind Prado Dam.
This historic project announcement highlights the importance of water supply reliability and will add an additional 6,000 to 12,000 acre-feet of water annually into the Orange County Groundwater Basin (Basin) —creating a new water supply for approximately 60,000 people per year. Stormwater captured at Prado Dam is recharged into the Basin, which provides 77% of the drinking water that our 19 member agencies rely upon.
Without key partners like the Corps, water supply projects like this would not be possible. I want to thank the Corps for their longstanding partnership to collaborate with OCWD on innovative solutions. Whether it is public agencies working together or public-private partnerships, we need these strong alliances working together to make good investments that ensure water supply reliability for the region.
At the Association of California Water Agencies’ (ACWA) 2021 Virtual Spring Conference and Exhibition, OCWD received the Clair A. Hill Agency Award for Excellence, which recognized the District for launching the nation’s largest per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) pilot testing program.
Every year, ACWA identifies exemplary programs that demonstrate success in creatively addressing water industry issues, leadership in broad water-related issues, and excellence in agency management and operations.
“This award highlights our regional leadership and comprehensive approach to proactively and swiftly address PFAS that have been detected in local groundwater supplies,” said OCWD President Steve Sheldon. “Our staff have done an outstanding job responding to this critical water quality issue by implementing projects like the PFAS pilot testing program. As always, we are committed to sharing our research results and best practices with the broader water industry so that everyone can benefit from this exemplary program.”
As part of the first phase of its pilot program, OCWD has successfully completed more than a year’s worth of testing and data collection where 14 different types of granular activated carbon and ion exchange products, as well as novel adsorbents, have been tested to determine the most cost-effective and best treatment solution to remove PFAS in the groundwater supply. The District recently began the second phase of the pilot program that will test new treatment media.
READ PRESS RELEASE: For more information about the award recognition and OCWD’s PFAS pilot program, read our press release.
WATCH AWARD ACCEPTANCE VIDEO: On behalf of OCWD, President Steve Sheldon and Vice President Cathy Green proudly accepted the award during the virtual ACWA Spring Conference in May. Click here to watch the acceptance video.
Registration for the OC Water Summit, which is presented by the Orange County Water District and the Municipal Water District of Orange County, is open!
From PFAS to the future of the Delta to much needed water supply projects and the Colorado River, you will hear about it all at Orange County’s premiere water event. Join nearly 400 business professionals, elected officials, water industry experts, and scholars for the 2021 OC Water Summit, "Water Breaking News" on Friday, October 15 at Disney's Grand Californian Resort & Spa, as we focus on the many water stories making headlines. Renowned weathercaster Fritz Coleman returns as master of ceremonies.
TICKETS: Individual tickets are $130 and include breakfast, lunch, self-parking, and summit materials. Tables of eight are $1,600 and include sponsorship benefits.
EVENT INFORMATION: Please visit our website for information on this year’s program.
The 2019-2020 Engineer’s Report on the Groundwater Conditions, Water Supply and Basin Utilization in the OCWD service area is now online on the District’s website. This annual Engineer’s Report has been prepared in accordance with the requirements of OCWD’s Act.
A summary of some key findings and highlights of this annual Engineer’s Report includes the following:
- • Total water demands within the OCWD service area for the 2019-2020 water year that commenced on July 1, 2019 and ended on June 30, 2020 were 397,419 acre-feet.
- • Precipitation within OCWD’s boundaries for the 2019-2020 water year averaged 13.38 inches, which was 99% of the long-term average rainfall.
- • The average discharge of Santa Ana River flow past Prado Dam for the 2019-2020 water year was measured to 161,434 acre-feet, which represented 70% of the 30-year average flow.
- • Groundwater stored in the OCWD groundwater basin increased by 36,000 acre-feet for the 2019-2020 water year.
- • Despite dry conditions, the Basin continues to be reliable and plentiful. Through appropriate management, OCWD has successfully increased the yield of the Basin over time.
READ THE REPORT: View the 2019-2020 Engineer’s Report on the District’s website to learn more about the District’s water supply, annual and accumulated overdraft, recommended basin production percentage, water production costs, and much more.
OCWD’s May webinar, “Water Reuse: Where Are We Now, and Where Are We Going?” highlighted the significance of water reuse to support a diversified water supply portfolio.
Our expert panelists included Mehul Patel, OCWD’s executive director of operations; Kevin Hardy, executive director of the National Water Research Institute; and WateReuse California Managing Director Jennifer West who shared lessons learned, best practices, and what’s to come in the world of reuse, including a guide for California utilities to use when considering direct potable reuse (DPR) projects or future DPR regulations from the State Water Resources Control Board. The panel was moderated by Patricia Tennyson, executive vice president of Katz and Associates.
Our monthly webinar series on emerging and newsworthy topics are a great way to learn about all things water. Hear from OCWD experts and District partners as they discuss important programs and projects that impact your water supply and get your questions answered. Whether you are an elected official, water industry professional, researcher, consultant, student, or community member, there is something for everyone. Webinars last approximately one hour and are free to attend.
VIEW MAY RECORDING: Missed it or want to watch it again? The water reuse webinar is posted on the OCWD YouTube channel.
SAVE THE DATE FOR JUNE WEBINAR: Our next webinar will be on June 22 at 10 a.m. on the topic of PFAS. More information and registration will be available on our website.
Producer’s Corner: $1.6 Million DWR Grant to Help Mesa Water Enhance Local Groundwater Production Capacity
Mesa Water District (Mesa Water) will receive a $1.6 million grant to help improve water supply reliability in the region.
As part of a California Department of Water Resources (DWR) $55 million multi-year grant that was awarded to five regional water agencies in the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority, Mesa Water is eligible to receive funding for the construction of Croddy Well 14, one of two new wells that will increase local groundwater production capacity.
Construction for Croddy Well 14, which can produce approximately 4,000 gallons per minute, is scheduled for completion in winter 2022. The funds will be available to Mesa Water once construction is completed and terms of the grant agreement have been met.
The DWR $55 million grant was awarded to OCWD, Inland Empire Utilities Agency, Western Municipal Water District, San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District, and Eastern Municipal Water District. OCWD received $8 million of the DWR grant and selected Mesa Water along with four other water agencies to receive $1.6 million each to support the construction of new groundwater production wells.
MORE INFORMATION: Read Mesa Water’s press release for more information.
Last month, OCWD hosted the Youth Environmental Summit (YES), formerly known as the Children’s Water Education Festival. Traditionally an in-person event, staff transformed it to an interactive virtual field trip for 2021 featuring live and on-demand programs for Orange County’s third, fourth and fifth grade students. More than 6,600 students from over 90 Orange County schools registered to attend YES during Earth Week, April 19 through April 23.
Approximately 4,500 students tuned in daily during three days of live presentations. Throughout the week-long event, public and private organizations provided more than 60 live, interactive and on-demand educational presentations to the students, including eight OCWD presentations.
WATCH VIDEO: Watch the recap video featuring highlights from this year’s YES.
As part of its commitment 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:
- •Director of Research Dr. Megan Plumlee participated as a panelist at Water UCI, where she discussed the current and future use of potable reuse.
- •Executive Director of Water Quality and Technical Resources Jason Dadakis provided a presentation to a northern California PFAS Task Force comprised of representatives from San Jose Water, Valley Water, the San Francisco Regional Board, the State Water Resources Control Board, and the Division of Drinking Water.
- •Chief of Hydrogeology Roy Herndon participated in a question-and-answer discussion regarding groundwater contamination with a Chapman University environmental chemistry class.
- •Executive Director of Operations Mehul Patel spoke on the panel “Advanced Water Treatment Operators” during a virtual meeting of the American Water Works Association CA-NV section.
REQUEST A SPEAKER: Need a speaker for your upcoming virtual event? Visit our Speakers Bureau webpage for more information!
OCWD continues to offer virtual tours of the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) in webinar format through our monthly public tour program, and upon request.
Our virtual tours feature an in-depth look at the world-renowned GWRS through a video tour of the facility led by General Manager Mike Markus. The presentations are followed by live Q&A with OCWD experts.
Public tours are generally held the first Friday of every month, virtually, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Upcoming tours will be on June 11 and July 9.
BOOK A TOUR: Registration is required for all public tours and is available through the OCWD book a tour site.
ACCESS ON-DEMAND VIDEOS: For those unable to attend a virtual tour, on-demand tour videos, led by OCWD General Manager Mike Markus and staff, are available to view through the following links: on-demand GWRS general tour or on-demand GWRS technical tour.
GROUP TOUR REQUESTS: Tours for schools and community organizations can be scheduled separately. Should you have any questions or wish to obtain more information about scheduling a tour, please contact Kira Erquiaga.
By Dick Zembal, Natural Resources Director
In this month’s Wild Secrets column, Natural Resources Director Dick Zembal shares a story about the various habitat that live and thrive in the OCWD watershed. Read his story below.
The idea of living on a river or lake appeals to many people but should you be so lucky you probably also know that your scenic ambiance is shared space. The water that OCWD manages for the residents of Orange County, on its way to people, grows habitat and fuels the lives of countless fellow creatures. The conveyance system, the river itself is a wildlife highway from the mountains to the ocean. The river gets more urbanized as it courses coastward but sustains wildlife along its entire length, all part of a healthy riverine system. You really cannot put water on the land for long without growing something. A wetted river channel is going to grow plants and insects, supporting fish, birds, and other life. If it does not, it is either quite ephemeral or something is seriously wrong. The closer you live to the water, the more your property functions as an extension of the riverbank and the more likely you are to experience riverine creatures, some quite pesky.
It is May and the temperatures this season have already hit the 90s. The Santa Ana River flows full, bank to bank because there were late rains and there is nowhere else to put the water. In the early light, a tiny, winged creature emerges from the water and takes flight. By early morning, there are millions of them swarming in the micro-thermals just above the river and banks. These are breeding clouds of midges, mostly males attempting to attract a female. The swarms waft with the breeze and finally alight to rest on whatever plant life happens to be handy. They are drawn to the light, white, the bright. A porch light on a warm evening could attract thousands of them. A lighted pool in a nearby backyard has a film of them that clouds the water. A white wall is coated and darkened, a dark brown wall next door, nearly barren of them.
Midges do not bite but they do annoy with their swirling swarms, often at perfect head-height in massive abundance because of their synchronous emergence. They do fly lower and higher but there are so many of them. An early morning runner could cough in the tiny-bodied cloud if not careful. On the slightly more positive side, if this were Michigan, where they do bite, such a swarm would strike fear, fight, or flight in all within view of it.
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. Despite playing no role in releasing PFAS into the environment, we must find ways to remove it.
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 and continues to participate in important dialogues and research initiatives with people across the country on developing long-term solutions.
PFAS INFORMATION: For the most recent updates and information or to sign up for our email updates, please visit OCWD’s PFOS/PFOA Resources page.
OCWD manages and protects the Orange County Groundwater Basin that underlies north and central Orange County, from which 19 cities and water agencies draw their water supply. OCWD implements a proactive groundwater and surface water monitoring program to protect the quality of the Orange County Groundwater Basin and ensure the water it provides meets or exceeds state and federal drinking water standards.
Industrial chemicals have impacted areas in the northern and southern parts of the groundwater basin; North Basin (near Fullerton, Anaheim, and Placentia) and South Basin (near Santa Ana, Tustin, and Irvine). OCWD is proactively seeking ways to clean up the pollution in a united effort with local and national regulatory agencies.
READ QUARTERLY UPDATE: OCWD has published its April 2021 update on activities in and around the North and South Basin sites. OCWD will continue to update stakeholders as the need arises.
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:
- • The Epoch Times: California’s Worsening Drought Highlights Conservation and Lack of New Water Supply
- • Water Online: Thousands Of Orange County Students Learn About STEM Careers And Environmental Topics From Leading Global Experts
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 welcome four new staff members.
View the infographic below to see the groundwater basin’s storage, recharge, and pumping levels, through end of April 2021.