OCWD Update
March 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:

  • As required under state law, State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) staff presented its recommendations for notification levels (NL) and response levels (RL) for  Perfluorobutane Sulfonic Acid (PFBS) as an informational item at it's March 2 Board meeting. The NL recommendation is .5 parts per billion (ppb) and the RL recommendation is 5 ppb. It is expected that the new NL and RL will be formally adopted administratively in the near future.

  • 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 and is now expected to release them the first quarter of this year. Once 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. Once finalized, the PHGs form the foundation for enforceable Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) which are expected in late 2023.

  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will move forward with two regulations relating to toxic "forever chemicals" that were signed by the Trump administration in its last days. The regulations include a final determination that the chemicals PFOA and PFOS should be regulated in drinking water and a proposal to require national drinking water monitoring for 29 PFAS chemicals as a part of the 2023-2025 Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule 5. The agency is on a court-ordered deadline to issue the monitoring rule, and revising the regulatory determination made by the Trump administration would have significantly slowed the process for issuing actual drinking water limits. 

  • OCWD has nearly completed this quarter's sampling and testing of the 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 issue a third statewide order that will affect approximately 35 additional wells in Orange County operating nearby current or former military facilities. Those orders are expected soon and will likely require testing to begin in the second quarter of 2021.

  • 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 approved the bids and awarded the contracts for Yorba Linda Water District’s and city of Garden Grove's PFAS Treatment Plants. Construction is expected to begin in March for both projects.

  • A request to advertise construction contract documents for the city of Orange is expected to go to OCWD's Board in March. Design modifications have been finalized and approved for Serrano Water District's facility and construction is expected to begin in April. 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, which is currently being analyzed. The second phase of the project is expected to come online early in the second quarter and will test new treatment media.

  • 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.

  • While the University California, Irvine (UCI) led PFAS study remains on hold due to COVID-19, the Water Quality and Community Advisory Panels met to provide input on informational materials being created for participant recruitment in the study. OCWD provided recommendations. OCWD Executive Director of Water Quality and Technical Resources Jason Dadakis P.G., C.HG, presented a PFAS overview at the meeting.

  • Industry professionals are invited to participate in a new professional forum: The PFAS Community App, powered by CDM Smith. Over the past year, CDM has been developing this online tool for practitioners and interested stakeholders to connect on critical PFAS research, treatment and policy. Members will have access to scientists and engineers who are working on the front lines of PFAS response.  Register Here.

  • Rosanne Weston, PMP Engineering Manager, Yorba Linda Water District presented a webinar to Orange County Water Association members about the design of Yorba Linda Water District’s New 19 MGD PFAS Treatment Plant.
  • As part of OCWD’s speakers bureau program, OCWD Executive Director of Water Quality and Technical Resources Jason Dadakis P.G., C.HG presented at the Southern California Water Coalition’s Water Quality Matters webinar titled “Understanding and Addressing PFAS in Our Water.”