Special edition issue featuring OCWD's 90th anniversary
President's Message:
90 Years of Innovative Groundwater Management 
In June, the Orange County Water District celebrated its 90th anniversary, a momentous occasion reflecting decades of leadership and programs to manage the Orange County Groundwater Basin.

We’re proud of the District’s rich history and the vital role we play in replenishing the groundwater basin, which provides 85% of the water supply for 2.5 million people in north and central Orange County. Since 1933, OCWD has been at the forefront of water management, and we have remained steadfast in our mission to provide a safe and resilient water supply. Reaching this significant milestone is a testament to the dedication and hard work of everyone at OCWD, past and present, and the support of our communities.

Guided by our values of sound planning and investment, high standards for water reliability, exceptional water quality, environmental stewardship, sound financial management, and transparency, OCWD enters its 90th year committed to ongoing innovation, sustainability and maximizing local water supplies.

Please join me in reflecting on the past nine decades and here’s to many more years to come! 
Formation of OCWD
OCWD is responsible for managing the Orange County Groundwater Basin, a vast, hidden gem spanning more than three hundred square miles and holding billions of gallons of water. Orange County’s groundwater basin began forming millions of years ago as mountains eroded and ocean and riverine sediments filled a deep valley, trapping Santa Ana River water within layers of sand and gravel.
During a significant drought that lasted from 1928–1934, the groundwater basin was over pumped and the county’s population was expanding. In June 1933, the California State Legislature formed the Orange County Water District to manage the region’s water supply and protect quantity and quality of the basin. Groundwater pumping is non-adjudicated and OCWD chose a unique and effective means to provide enough groundwater while keeping the basin safe from over pumping. Since its formation in 1933, the District has doubled the basin output and continues to find new sources to refill it.

Board of Directors, past and present, had the vision and foresight to develop projects that provide water supply reliability for OCWD's 19 retail water agencies. OCWD continues to ensure water reliability and quality, prevent seawater intrusion, and protect Orange County’s rights to Santa Ana River water.
Our Talented Staff
The District’s employees are its most valuable resources. OCWD staff have worked diligently over the past 90 years to proactively manage Orange County’s groundwater basin and serve our communities effectively. The District is comprised of 21 departments and a diverse group of staff, each serving a unique and valuable function to advance the District's mission. Our staff attend and participate in industry conferences and meetings locally and around the world to offer insights into water-related innovations and discoveries. 

Can you recognize all the different functions at the District from the icons below?
Learn About Our History
To commemorate this milestone, the OCWD Board of Directors formally recognized the anniversary at its June 21 board meeting, the District launched a series of social media posts throughout the month to educate the community on its robust history and published a 90th anniversary edition of its history book.

In the words of OCWD General Manager Mike Markus:

“This book details the tremendous achievements of the Orange County Water District over the past 90 years. These accomplishments have made the district a global leader in groundwater management and recycled water. This would not have been achieved without the vision and leadership of the past and present Boards of Directors. These leaders have shaped the decisions and policies that have made the district what it is today. They have understood the need for investments in water infrastructure and the impact of these investments on Orange County’s economic vitality...

... Even though the challenges will be great, I am confident that the district staff will rise to the occasion and produce creative solutions in finding additional ways in which to maximize the potential of the groundwater basin. The district has always been recognized for its 'tradition of innovation' and high–caliber staff. With the combination of the leadership of the Board of Directors and the ingenuity of the staff, the Orange County Water District will continue its preeminent reputation well into the future.”
Fast Forward to 2023
OCWD continually invests in existing and new infrastructure to increase and diversify local water supplies and secure long-term water reliability.

Relying on a diverse water supply portfolio ensures the groundwater basin has adequate supply which includes Santa Ana River water, stormwater, local rainfall, imported water from northern California and the Colorado River, and recycled water from the world’s largest Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS).
Here are just a few of the many recent accomplishments and initiatives we continue to work on:
  • Completed the final expansion of the GWRS and continuing to find ways to optimize operations
  • Building PFAS treatment plants and managing increased PFAS sampling and testing in the lab and field
  • Working with our partners on the implementation of Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations (FIRO) at Prado Dam and on track to publish the Final Viability Assessment in 2023
  • Maintaining the seawater intrusion barrier to protect the basin from saltwater contamination and evaluating the possibility of a third barrier
  • Solidifying OCWD’s tradition of innovation on a local, national, and global scale 
ACWA Election Committee Recommends Cathy Green to Serve as ACWA President
The Association of California Water Agencies’ (ACWA) Election Committee has unanimously nominated longtime OCWD Director Cathy Green to serve as its President.

Cathy Green currently serves as Vice President of ACWA, a position she was elected to in December 2021 for a two-year term. She has served as an active member of ACWA since 2012, including serving on ACWA’s executive committee, the ACWA Board, and the Region 10 Board. She has also held positions of ACWA Region 10 chair and vice chair and served on several ACWA committees including the water quality, energy, and state legislative committees.

Cathy's vision for ACWA is to fully embrace its motto of ‘Bringing Water Together' by unifying ACWA members and collaborating with stakeholders to find effective solutions to the challenges we face. Water districts throughout the state have shown their support to elect Cathy Green as the next ACWA President. The ACWA Election Committee will be listing Cathy on the ballot for ACWA President, which will be presented to Association members for a vote beginning July 17. Voting will be done electronically through September 15.

For more information on how to vote and to learn more about the official candidates running for ACWA President and Vice President, visit www.acwa.com/elections. To learn more about Director Green’s experience, qualifications, and vision for ACWA, visit her webpage.
Managing the OC Groundwater Basin
OCWD is one of the few groundwater management agencies able to track the groundwater basin’s “water budget” on a monthly basis. This information allows the District to make more informed management decisions about future water supplies and pumping. View the infographic below to see the groundwater basin’s storage, recharge, and pumping levels, through the end of May 2023.
Thirsty for More Information?
Explore the PFAS Education Center and take action to help us uphold the polluter pays principle and protect ratepayers.
Learn about the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS), the world's largest water purification system for indirect potable reuse.
See how OCWD is increasing water supplies and securing long-term water reliability for the 2.5 million people it serves.

Virtual Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) Tour - Friday, July 7 at 10:00 a.m. or Friday, August 4 at 10:00 a.m.
The Orange County Water District is committed to enhancing Orange County’s groundwater quality and reliability in an environmentally friendly and economical manner. The following cities rely on the groundwater basin, managed by OCWD, to provide 85% of their water demands: Anaheim, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Cypress, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Irvine, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Newport Beach, Orange, Placentia, Santa Ana, Seal Beach, Stanton, Tustin, Villa Park, Westminster, and Yorba Linda.
President Cathy Green
First Vice President Denis R. Bilodeau, P.E.
Second Vice President Van Tran, Esq.
Valerie Amezcua
Natalie Meeks
Dina L. Nguyen, Esq.
Kelly E. Rowe, CFM, P.G., C.E.G., C.H.
Stephen R. Sheldon
Bruce Whitaker
Roger C. Yoh, P.E.