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.
Harry Sidhu, P.E.
Roger C. Yoh, P.E.
Michael R. Markus
From implementing the nation’s largest PFAS treatment study and pilot program to designing and constructing several dozen treatment plants throughout Orange County to advocating for legislative solutions, we are doing all that we can to address PFAS contamination in the groundwater basin. And we are frequently reaching out to our stakeholders to keep them informed of these important issues.
A few weeks ago, our Director of Engineering Chris Olsen and Yorba Linda Water District (YLWD) Engineering Manager Rosanne Weston presented during our monthly webinar series on the nation’s largest ion exchange PFAS treatment plant at the YLWD headquarters. They did a great job discussing our robust and swift efforts to address PFAS to an audience of nearly 200 people from around the world. I was pleased to contribute to the dialogue to discuss important federal policy surrounding this costly issue that water providers did not cause. While we’re working hard to remove PFAS detected in the Orange County Groundwater Basin, manufacturers of PFAS should be held responsible.
In Orange County, the PFAS price tag is estimated at more than $1 billion over 30 years – a cost that will likely increase. This has a tremendous impact not only on water agencies, but on ratepayers. Therefore, our response to PFAS must also include legislative solutions to protect our ratepayers.
We believe the “polluter pays” principle must be upheld and are strongly advocating to add an exemption for water and wastewater agencies to the PFAS Action Act of 2021 (H.R. 2467). This pending legislation provides an exemption for the nations’ airports, and we ask Congress to also include water and wastewater agencies under this exemption. We recognize certain PFAS chemicals and other constituents of emerging concern should be carefully monitored and treated, but we believe it is inappropriate to treat public agencies cleaning up the problem in the same manner as the PFAS manufactures and formulators who caused it.
We also advocate for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to use current methodology when setting drinking water standards for two PFAS chemicals – PFOA and PFOS. According to the USEPA’s recently released PFAS Roadmap, Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) will be set for PFOA and PFOS in two years. We urge the USEPA to preserve the Safe Drinking Water Act’s current methodology that uses a cost-benefit analysis in the development of drinking water standards for PFOA and PFOS. This is a longstanding method that has been used and its elimination would burden ratepayers of all income levels with higher costs.
I encourage our stakeholders to please join us in our advocacy efforts by passing resolutions and sending letters to members of Congress. We would be happy to share template letters, resolutions, and other resources to aid in facilitating this very important issue.
In case you missed it, here’s a recording of the webinar.
OCWD Director Cathy Green has garnered support from 50 statewide agencies for the position of Vice President for the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA), including ACWA’s Nominating Committee who unanimously chose Director Green as the Vice President candidate for ACWA’s recommended slate. While advocating for water solutions at the local, regional, state, and federal levels, Director Green has built relationships that will help advance statewide issues and policies that ensure a safe, affordable, and reliable water supply for all Californians. Watch this short video below to learn more about her candidacy and experience or visit Director Green’s website for more information.
The election for ACWA President and Vice President will take place at the Association’s 2021 Fall Conference on Wednesday, December 1, 2021, at 12:00 p.m. during the General Session Membership Meeting.
Nearly 350 people attended the 13th annual OC Water Summit, "Water Breaking News" last month where we were back in person for in-depth discussions on the latest and most critical water issues facing the region. Our speakers represented local and statewide agencies, offering their perspectives and expertise on a wide range of topics including increasing water supply, implementing Forecast-Informed Reservoir Operations, managing the Santa Ana River, addressing PFAS in Orange County, and working collaboratively to achieve long-term water resiliency. In case you missed it or would like to review any of the session videos, they are now available on the OCWD YouTube channel.
Please save the date for the 14th annual OC Water Summit on September 16, 2022 at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa in Anaheim. Check the Summit website in spring 2022 for more information.
Thank you to the city of Anaheim for inviting OCWD to the Linda Vista Groundwater Treatment Plant groundbreaking ceremony where OCWD Director and Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu was a featured speaker. During the event, Recharge Planning Manager Adam Hutchinson also served as a tour guide for three groups of high school students and provided information about what OCWD does and how we replenish the groundwater basin.
Join OCWD and the city of Huntington Beach for our next webinar on OCWD’s seawater intrusion program on Tuesday, December 14 at 10:00 a.m.
Since 2010, the District has been investigating the nature and extent of seawater intrusion in the Sunset Gap area beneath the Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach. Through seawater intrusion barriers, water is injected via wells to create a high-pressure ridge underground that prevents seawater from moving inland and contaminating valuable groundwater. This webinar will highlight how OCWD combats seawater intrusion in the Orange County Groundwater Basin, primarily focusing on the Sunset Gap area, and take a deep dive into how it was discovered, what our investigation has shown, and potential barrier concepts based on groundwater modeling.
To continue educating the public, and offering the convenience of a virtual format, OCWD hosts virtual tours of the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) through an interactive, behind-the-scenes look at the world-renowned facility. Check out our tour options below.
Public Tours: Video tour of the facility led by General Manager Mike Markus, followed by live Q&A with OCWD experts. Public tours are generally held the first Friday of every month at 10:00 a.m. and last approximately one hour. Upcoming public tours will be on December 3, 2021 and January 7, 2022. Advance registration is required and can be made by visiting the Book a Tour webpage.
Customized Group Tours: To request a customized tour for groups who need flexibility on dates and times, please contact Kira Erquiaga.
On-Demand Videos: These videos are a great tool to watch in the convenience of your home or to show during a meeting, event, or class lecture. View our on-demand GWRS general tour (less than 10 minutes) and on-demand GWRS technical tour (less than 30 minutes).
As part of its commitment to maintain long-term, positive, and proactive relationships with members of the local community and greater water industry, OCWD board members and staff speak regularly before groups and at events. We recently participated in the following:
- •General Manager Mike Markus and Recharge Planning Manager Adam Hutchinson participated in UCI Water’s virtual workshop, “SGMA implementation, Economic Issues, Water-Energy-Food Nexus: Comparison and Lessons Learned from European Union and Australia.”
- •Chief Hydrogeologist Roy Herndon discussed the importance of the Santa Ana River for water supply, ecological habitat, and recreation during an Orange County Coastkeeper podcast.
- •Principal Engineer Ben Smith presented on the upcoming construction of a PFAS treatment facility in the city of Santa Ana during a community meeting hosted at the Discovery Cube Science Museum.
Visit the OCWD Speakers Bureau webpage for more information or to request a speaker for your next meeting or event.
By Dick Zembal, Natural Resources Director
In this month’s Wild Secrets column, Natural Resources Director Dick Zembal reflects upon a popular bird that may be on some of our minds this month. Check out his story below to have a better understanding of how the native California turkey came into existence and where they live today.
Turkeys are the largest of the chicken-like birds, gamebirds, or terrestrial fowl. Close relatives include California natives like grouse and quails, as well as non-native pheasants and partridges (chukars). Turkey domestication goes back at least 2,000 years but modern-day mass production made turkey meat even more widely available. The bird’s name likely stems from British settlers associating them with their homeland forest fowl, turkey coq. or the country (Turkey) from which the birds were first wholesaled to Britain. The association between today’s Thanksgiving and the turkey was likely solidified about the time that the declaration of the official national holiday was made by President Lincoln in 1863. Turkeys were very abundant then. Everybody hunted, the birds are big enough to feed a family, and they taste good. Early settlers were big on feasts and celebratory occasions and in those days a bountiful fall harvest and full larder on the brink of winter shutdown was celebration worthy indeed.
The native California turkey went extinct about 10,000 years ago at a time when North America was warming and drying, the glaciers were retreating, and Native Americans were overhunting the birds where they congregated at waterholes. The other North American species is split geographically into five subspecies, two of which were subsequently released in attempts to reestablish wild populations in California. The first documented release was by a private landowner on Santa Cruz Island in 1877. California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) raised hybridized stock for larger, more successful releases throughout the state in 1928-1949. Today, turkeys are found in 54 of the state’s 58 counties. Locally, they are more abundant in San Diego County but have been established in the Cleveland National Forest.
OCWD continues to be recognized for its leadership in the water industry. Below are the District’s recent media highlights and industry publications that feature OCWD and the GWRS:
- •East Bay Times: California Drought: Proposed Ballot Measure Would Fast-Track Construction of Dams, Desalination Plants and Other Water Projects
- •Event-News Enterprise: Spare a Good Thought for OC Water
- •Make Water Famous: Are You Happy to Drink Purified Wastewater?
- •Messenger Inquirer: As Cities Grow, Wastewater Recycling Gets Another Look
- •Voice of OC: Proposed Ballot Measure Could Save Controversial HB Desal Plant Proposal if State Regulators Deny It
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 three new staff members.
View the infographic below to see the groundwater basin’s storage, recharge, and pumping levels, through end of October 2021.