OCWD Update
January 2021
The Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) strives to deliver clean, reliable drinking water to 2.5 million customers every day. OCWD and the local water suppliers in its service area are committed to operating in compliance with all state and federal guidelines and regulatory requirements.

Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) are chemicals that are prevalent in the environment and were once commonly used in many consumer products.

PFAS have been detected in the Orange County Groundwater Basin. OCWD provides regular PFAS updates to community stakeholders to inform them of the proactive measures that the District and local water suppliers have taken to address PFAS in the Basin. 

For more background information, please see the materials below:
  • OCWD continued its sampling and testing of the new PFAS monitoring orders that were formally issued by the state Division of Drinking Water (DDW) in September 2020. The monitoring orders affected 15 local water suppliers in OCWD's service area for a total of 86 individual wells. The orders require year long quarterly testing which began in the fourth quarter of 2020. DDW will likely issue a third statewide order that will affect additional wells operating in proximity to military facilities. Those orders are expected early this year and will likely require testing to begin in the second quarter of 2021.

  • There remains no new update on pending state draft Public Health Goals (PHGs) for PFOA and PFOS. The state originally planned on issuing draft PHGs in early 2020. When they are issued, the draft PHGs will go through a public review process including two public comment periods, one public workshop and an external scientific peer review.

  • The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) publicly released its drinking water Notification Level (NL) recommendation for Perfluorobutane Sulfonic Acid (PFBS) in drinking water to the State Water Resources Control Board DDW. The adoption process will adhere to the requirements for AB 2560, which took effect January 1, 2021 and require at least 30 days public notice and a public presentation at a State Board meeting, the latter of which is likely to occur in March. The NL recommendation is 0.5 parts per billion (ppb). There are currently no anticipated regulatory impacts of PFBS to Orange County groundwater at this level.

  • The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) requires that once every five years EPA issue a new list of unregulated contaminants to be monitored by public water systems (PWSs). The proposed fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 5) was signed on January 14, 2021 and must subsequently be published in the Federal Register to become official. UCMR 5, as proposed, would include required analysis for 29 PFAS chemicals between 2023 and 2025 using analytical methods developed by EPA and partnering organizations. This proposed action would provide EPA, states, and communities with scientifically valid data on the national occurrence of these contaminants in drinking water. For more information please go to this link : https://www.epa.gov/dwucmr/fifth-unregulated-contaminant-monitoring-rule .
  • OCWD and its local water suppliers continue making significant headway on new groundwater treatment facilities with the goal of getting wells back online as soon as possible.

  • Currently 10 impacted local water suppliers are moving forward with design or construction of facilities. Local water suppliers building facilities include the cities of Anaheim, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Orange, Santa Ana, and Tustin; Serrano Water District; East Orange County Water District; Irvine Ranch Water District and Yorba Linda Water District.

  • In February, OCWD's Board is expected to review the bids and award the contracts for Yorba Linda Water District’s and city of Garden Grove's PFAS Treatment Plants. Construction is expected to begin in March.

  • A request to advertise construction contract documents for the city of Orange is expected to go to OCWD's Board in March. Design modifications are being assessed for Serrano Water District's facility. Construction at Fullerton's Kimberly Well 1A site continues and operation of the treatment facility could begin as early as April. 

  • The OCWD PFAS Pilot facility continues to run and has now provided more than a year's worth of data. OCWD will continue testing some Phase 1 media into the first quarter of 2021 and a follow-on Phase 2 program is under development to start during the second quarter.

  • OCWD’s PFAS Treatment Program is one of 55 new projects in 20 states invited to apply for approximately $5.1 billion in loans from the Environmental Protection Agency's Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program. OCWD is actively pursuing $173 million in loans to help fund local PFAS treatment facilities. WIFIA is a federal program supporting the financing of public infrastructure.

  • The University California, Irvine (UCI) led PFAS study remains on hold due to COVID-19. OCWD Executive Director of Water Quality and Technical Resources Jason Dadakis P.G., C.HG, will present a PFAS overview at a meeting of UCI's water quality and community advisory panels in February.