Research & development

Solid science and state-of-the-art technologies help guide OCWD's planning and investment decisions.

The OCWD Research and Development (R&D) Department coordinates and conducts applied physical, chemical and biological research that supports and enhances the Orange County Water District’s core operational needs.

The R&D department, located at the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) Advanced Water Purification Facility, develops and evaluates new technical and analytic methods relevant to the District’s operations.

Department staff research and review promising new technologies to improve water quality and increase the efficiency of OCWD’s recycled water treatment and recharge operations.

Studies include the fundamental physical, biological and chemical dynamics of the multi-barrier treatment process, such as:

  • Microfiltration (MF)
  • Reverse osmosis (RO)
  • UV/H202 advanced oxidation processes (AOP)
  • Post-treatment stabilization

Alternatives and improvements to these core water purification processes are also investigated. Progress is reported regularly via participation in the internal Purification Research Enhancement Working Group.

R&D also works closely with the Forebay Recharge Operations and Planning Departments to support investigations and projects aimed at improving percolation efficiency and enhancing water quality. Support consists of experimental design, field monitoring, statistical analysis and laboratory analytic expertise. Efforts supported include the recharge system Sediment Transport Study and Desalting Demonstration Projects. Progress in these areas is reported regularly via participation in the internal Recharge Enhancement Working Group (REWG).

R&D staff also conduct applied microbiological research and analysis in support of the District’s groundwater quality monitoring, water recycling operations, watershed monitoring, and national efforts to better understand waterborne pathogen sources, fate and transport.

R&D Department staff participate in scientific advisory panels, research advisory boards and project advisory committees to help guide external research efforts related to OCWD’s activities. Department operations are partially grant funded, and staff research findings are made public at scientific conferences and via publication of reports and scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals.

Please contact Dr. Megan Plumlee, Director of Research, for research-related inquiries.