OCWD Update
May 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:
  • On June 9 from 10 a.m.-11 a.m. PST, the Association of Safe Drinking Water Administrators (ASDWA) will hold a webinar with the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry on their PFAS activities. The webinar will cover PFAS investigations and resources, cross-agency efforts with EPA and other federal agencies, work with states, and more. The webinar will be helpful for state drinking water programs to understand PFAS exposure and help with the drinking water decision-making process to assess and address PFAS. Register here.

  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or Agency) announced that EPA Administrator Michael Regan has issued a memo establishing an “EPA Council on PFAS”. The council will be charged with building on the agency’s ongoing work to better understand and reduce potential risks from PFAS. Regan has asked Radhika Fox (Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water) and Deb Szaro (EPA’s New England Acting Regional Administrator) to convene and lead the EPA Council on PFAS, which will be comprised of senior EPA career officials from across the agency. Administrator Regan is directing the Council to:

  • Develop “PFAS 2021-2025 – Safeguarding America’s Waters, Air and Land,” a multi-year strategy to deliver critical public health protections to the American public. To develop the strategy, the ECP will review all ongoing actions, propose any necessary modifications, and identify new strategies and priorities. The ECP shall make initial recommendations within 100 days of its establishment. 
  • Continue close interagency coordination on regional specific and cross-media issues to assist states, Tribes, and local communities faced with significant and complex PFAS challenges.
  • Work with all national program offices and regions to maximize the impact of EPA’s funding and financing programs and leverage federal and state funds to support cleanup of PFAS pollution, particularly in underserved communities.
  • Expand engagement opportunities with federal, state, and tribal partners to ensure consistent communications, exchange information, and identify collaborative solutions.

  • 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. 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.


  • OCWD has begun monitoring 34 additional wells in compliance with the third PFAS monitoring order that was formally issued by the state Division of Drinking Water (DDW) in March. The original orders were issued in September 2020. The orders require year long quarterly testing which began in the fourth quarter of 2020.

  • 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 11 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; Golden State Water Company, Irvine Ranch Water District and Yorba Linda Water District.

  • Construction is underway for 4 water suppliers including the City of Fullerton whose Kim 1A facility is expected to be operational in June, Yorba Linda Water District, Serrano Water District whose facility should be online in November, and the City of Garden Grove who is building facilities for 5 wells at 4 locations . The City of Orange has received bids and construction is expected to start this summer. OCWD is in design phase for 5 additional supplier facilities including East Orange County Water District, City of Fullerton, Irvine Ranch Water District, City of Santa Ana and City of Tustin. The City of Anaheim awarded a design build contract in April for 8 wells at 4 locations. Golden State Water Company is currently developing the scope for its facility and expected to move to design soon.

  • OCWD is transitioning its piloting program from Phase 1 to Phase 2. Phase 1 granulated activated carbon (GAC) skids were decommissioned and no new GAC products will be tested. A total of 6 Phase 1 ion exchange and alternative adsorbents are being tested in Phase 2. This includes 5 new products and one ion exchange from Phase I, which was the best performer. The Phase I pilot report is being incorporated into a larger treatment study report that should be finalized in the near future.

  • The University California, Irvine (UCI) led PFAS study is expected to start participant recruitment for the study on or around July 1. OCWD and some water retail agencies participate on the Water Quality Advisory Panel for the study. The Panel meets monthly and at the May meeting UCI is expected to present draft versions of communication materials that will be used for the study. OCWD will continue to provide input and recommendations to coordinate clear and consistent messaging.