Highlights from January 2023
Welcome to the Special Edition of Hydrospectives
Featuring the GWRS 15th anniversary... and more!
President's Message: Happy 15th Anniversary, Groundwater Replenishment System 
In January, we celebrated the 15th anniversary of the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS). A joint project between OCWD and OC San, the GWRS made history when it came online in 2008, overcoming the stigma associated with these types of projects and bringing water reliability to Orange County.

The GWRS has since garnered many more accolades along the way including setting the Guinness World Records title for the most wastewater recycled to drinking water in 24 hours, receiving global recognition and visitors from around the world, and most recently, recycling 100% of OC San’s reclaimable flows, which will soon produce 130 million gallons of high-quality drinking water a day, serving nearly 1 million people. OCWD and OC San were also the first in the Western Hemisphere to bottle advanced purified water for educational purposes.

This remarkable achievement could not be possible without the longstanding collaboration with OC San and with the support of our local water retailers and so many other stakeholders along the way. Cheers to all involved in making history with us! 
15 Years of the Groundwater Replenishment System
The GWRS is the world's largest indirect potable reuse facility, taking highly treated wastewater and purifying it using a three-step advanced treatment process consisting of microfiltration (MF), reverse osmosis (RO), and ultraviolet light (UV) with hydrogen peroxide. The result is high-quality water that is pumped to recharge basins in Anaheim where it naturally percolates into the Orange County Groundwater Basin and becomes part of the drinking water supply for 2.5 million people in north and central Orange County. GWRS water is also sent to injection wells located along Orange County’s coast to create a seawater intrusion barrier that protects groundwater supplies.
Over the years, GWRS water has become a primary source used to refill the basin and has allowed agencies served by OCWD to pump more water from the basin and become more locally sustainable. The GWRS started producing 70 million gallons of water per day (MGD) in January 2008, increased production to 100 MGD after an expansion was completed in May 2015, and since inception has produced more than 400 billion gallons of water and counting. The GWRS 15th anniversary comes on the heels of another milestone for the state-of-the-art-facility: beginning the start-up and commissioning of its Final Expansion which will soon provide up to 130 MGD – enough to serve one million people daily. 

GWRS builds upon a long-standing partnership with the Orange County Sanitation District (OC San) after successful operations of Water Factory 21 (WF21) from 1975-2004 perfecting the art of water reuse and addressing the region's water supply needs. It was there when OCWD piloted various MF, UF, and RO membranes. In fact, the first-ever application using RO on municipal wastewater occurred at WF21.

From the very beginning, the partnership between OC San was critical to the success of this regional water reuse project as was the vision and foresight from the OCWD and OC San board of directors. We’re proud that GWRS is a global model for similar projects and has multiple local and regional benefits:

  • Reuses a once wasted resource
  • Costs less than imported water
  • Creates a new local water supply
  • Improves water quality in the groundwater basin
  • Protects the basin from seawater intrusion
  • Reduces dependence on imported water
  • Provides a reliable drinking water supply

To celebrate the anniversary, OCWD launched a social media campaign featuring facts about the facility, project successes, and award-winning moments. Take a look at some of the highlights below!
Anniversary Video
"The GWRS has produced 400 billion gallons of water which has increased our drinking water supply and protected our groundwater basin. We are extremely proud of this project and our longstanding partnership with OC San. Thanks to the GWRS, 2.5 million people in north and central OC can rely on us for most of their drinking water supply," said OCWD General Manager Mike Markus.

We couldn't have said it better, Mike. Take a look at this video featuring Mike and OC San General Manager Jim Herberg.
Taking it Back...

There were too many favorite moments to list them all, but we sure did enjoy going down memory lane with these. Recognize any of them? (We've given you a couple of hints below).
Water Factory 21
2008 Dedication Ceremony
Miller Basin
Final Expansion Groundbreaking
Water Tastings
Huell Howser
Bottled Water
Guinness World Record
Global Recognition
Want To Know How It's All Done?

OCWD continues its commitment to education, outreach, and transparency. We offer many different resources to educate our communities about the GWRS, the water purification process, and the many project benefits.

GWRS Tours
There’s lots of opportunities to get a virtual, interactive, behind-the-scenes look at the GWRS. All tours have a live Q&A session. Public tours are generally held the first Friday of every month at 10 a.m. and last approximately 1 hour. In-person tours will resume in 2023! Stay tuned for more information.

On-Demand Videos
Can't make one of our upcoming virtual tours? We've got on-demand tour videos ready to watch at your convenience. Check out this general tour video and this technical tour video.

Free Webinar
On February 7 at 12pm, OCWD General Manager Mike Markus and OC San General Manager Jim Herberg will highlight the most recent milestone for the GWRS: Recycling 100% of OC San's reclaimable wastewater flows into high-quality drinking water. Registration for this webinar is free.
In Other News...

Presentation, volunteer and sponsorship opportunities are available for the Children's Water Education Festival, the largest event of its kind in the U.S. taking place March 29-30 at UCI. The mission of the Festival is to educate students about water-related and environmental issues that correspond with Next Generation Science Standards. Please consider joining us for this exciting educational event!
Missed our 2022 highlights video? We've remained steadfast in our mission of managing and protecting the Orange County Groundwater Basin, ensured exceptional water quality, expanded water reuse, increased local water supplies, maintained environmental stewardship, continued sound financial management, innovated through new research and science, and engaged with our communities.

OCWD is committed to working with the community to solve threats to groundwater. We've published our January 2023 Quarterly Groundwater Cleanup Update, featuring activities in and around the North Basin (near Fullerton, Anaheim and Placentia) and South Basin (near Santa Ana, Tustin and Irvine) sites.
Congratulations to Claire Johnson, P.E., Senior Regulatory Specialist who was named the 2022 Employee of the Fourth Quarter and 2022 Employee of the Year! Claire has led OCWD's successful efforts to gain state regulatory approval for the GWRS Final Expansion over the past two years. This has required extensive coordination with multiple District departments and outside consultants to prepare detailed applications, reports, plans, presentations, meeting agendas, and memos. Claire’s flexibility, aptitude, and professionalism have been key to her success in this challenging, multi-disciplinary role.
Sustainably 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 December 2022.
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 mitigating drought by increasing water supplies and securing long-term water reliability for the 2.5 million people it serves.

Virtual Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) Tour - Friday, February 10 at 10:00 a.m.

Mesa Water District's Yo Amo Mesa Water Event - Saturday, February 11 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Mesa Water District (Stop by the OCWD booth!)

Children's Water Education Festival - Wednesday & Thursday, March 29-30 at UCI
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 77% 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.