Highlights from October 2022
President's Message:
Thank you, Water Professionals
With Thanksgiving just weeks away, now is an opportune time to recognize that providing affordable, abundant and high-quality water to Orange County families is a 24/7 job here at the Orange County Water District. I’d like to extend a big thank you to our OCWD family by recognizing the tremendous work that goes into ensuring safe and reliable water supply for our communities. California’s sixth annual Water Professionals Appreciation Week, celebrated October 1 – 9, highlights the important role of these individuals.

At OCWD, we rely on a team of nearly 230 employees to achieve our mission of protecting and managing the Orange County Groundwater Basin, providing high-quality water to 2.5 million people. From planners and engineers to accountants, water quality specialists and other skilled workers, it takes a diverse team to plan, build, operate, and maintain our water infrastructure. 

Thanks to this great team and the leadership of our board, Orange County remains resilient and is always prepared. Hats off to the OCWD water professionals who make this happen.
Remembering Bill Mills
The Orange County Water District family was saddened to hear of the passing of Bill Mills who served as OCWD’s general manager from 1987-2002.
Bill was a visionary leader with tremendous work ethic and expertise which led to numerous initiatives including the development of the rubber dams and new recharge facilities, the District’s seawater intrusion barrier program, the Green Acres Project, groundwater cleanup programs, and a 20-year master plan to ensure future water reliability. He continued to work with OC San to expand upon Water Factory 21 and develop the roadmap for the world-renowned Groundwater Replenishment System.
Bill’s significant contributions to the District and to the entire water industry are to be commended. To learn more about Bill's accomplishments and impact, view the OCWD history book (pages 42-53).
OCWD Continues to Lead PFAS Efforts in Orange County
Four PFAS Treatment Facilities in Orange Begin Operation
OCWD and the city of Orange began operating four treatment plants to remove PFAS from local well water. Orange, one of 19 water providers that pump water from the Orange County Groundwater Basin, had eight of its groundwater wells impacted by PFAS, prompting it to temporarily shut down those wells and transition to purchasing imported water from the Colorado River and northern California. Construction of the Orange facilities, which can treat up to 7,500 gallons of water per minute combined, took about a year to complete. A total of 36 PFAS treatment facilities will be operational by 2024 throughout the county.
Protecting our Ratepayers
Despite playing no role in releasing PFAS into the environment, OCWD and local water providers must remove it from their local water supplies. That is why OCWD and 10 Orange County water agencies filed a lawsuit against the manufacturers of PFAS, seeking to protect ratepayers and ensure that the associated costs are borne by the companies that developed and manufactured PFAS.
PFAS Education Center
To learn more about OCWD’s comprehensive and robust PFAS response, please visit the District's PFAS Education Center. Explore resources offered by OCWD and other experts in the field, learn who supports the polluter pays principle and take action yourselves by contacting Orange County's federal legislators to let them know polluters should pay for PFAS cleanup, not ratepayers.
Children's Water Education Festival is Back in Person!
We're back! The 26th annual Children's Water Education Festival, the largest of its kind in the U.S., will be held March 29-30, 2023 at the University of California, Irvine. Since its inception, more than 142,000 Orange County students have experienced the Festival and all it has to offer. Here are a couple of ways to get involved.

Calling all water, science and environment-based organizations! The Festival presents a unique opportunity to educate third, fourth and fifth grade students and help them understand how they can protect water supplies and their environment. Join us as we educate 7,000+ Orange County students through hands-on presentations and activities.

Registration for the 2023 Festival is open to third, fourth and fifth grade Orange County teachers and their students. There is no cost to attend. Space is limited, so please register ASAP!

Hosting an event of this magnitude is made possible by many generous sponsors. Multiple sponsorship levels are available to meet your organization's needs. Donations are tax-deductible and may be made online or by mail.

More information is available on the Children's Water Education Festival website.
All About Our Employees
California Water Professionals Appreciation Week
Every week is water professionals appreciation week at OCWD but October gives special attention to this occasion. Just like our "all of the above" approach to water management, it takes every employee across all departments to help us achieve our mission. When you’re OCWD, no mission is too great, or impossible to achieve. Check out this video depicting the possible!
Employee of the Third Quarter
Congratulations to Senior Chemist Phuong Lam for being named OCWD's 2022 Employee of the Third Quarter! Always a dependable member of the inorganic lab section, Phuong has stepped up and taken on greater responsibilities recently, maintaining her attention to detail and strong work ethic. From updating lab procedures, supporting annual monitoring requirements and identifying new sample preparation methods to making time to train newer colleagues and assisting with any troubleshooting issues, Phuong is truly committed to support her teammates and senior management within the lab.
First-Ever Operations Internship Program
The District recently hired two interns as part of the Groundwater Replenishment System Advanced Water Purification Facility (AWPF) Operations Internship Program, offering the opportunity to work with experienced treatment plant operators while gaining practical experience and training in the essential duties of a treatment plant operator. These emerging professionals will work under the direct oversight of a licensed operator.

OCWD's internship program provides meaningful training and work experience for students pursuing studies related to the District’s mission and goals. What an exciting time for our operations interns to join the District as we near completion of the GWRS Final Expansion!
In Case You Missed It
North & South Basin Quarterly Update Published
OCWD is committed to working with the community to solve threats to groundwater. We've published our October 2022 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.
Webinar: Preparing for Maximized Stormwater Capture While Safeguarding the Region from Flood Damage
Missed our October webinar all about recharge operations? A recording is now available to learn how OCWD is prepared to maximize stormwater capture from the Santa Ana River and enhance storage opportunities, all while preventing flood damage to our homes and businesses.
We're Published!

Check out this feature story from the current issue of Smart Water Magazine, where OCWD’s Executive Director of Operations Mehul Patel, P.E., talks about the GWRS and the public's willingness to support the sound science and technology innovations around water reuse.

Dr. Megan Plumlee, P.E., Research Director, Jason Dadakis, P.G., C.HG, Executive Director of Water Quality and Technical Resources, Patrick Versluis, Director of Water Quality, and Chris Olsen, P.E., Director of Engineering contributed to the report, "Groundwater Treatment to Remove PFAS: Restoring Local Drinking Water Supply in Orange County, California" featured on American Water Works Association (AWWA).
Spotted in the Community
We spoke at the National Federal Facility Excellence in Site Reuse award ceremony, where the former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro was recognized. OCWD has worked diligently to clean up groundwater contamination near the former base.
Thank you, Antonio Villaraigosa, former LA Mayor and current Infrastructure Advisor for California, for touring the GWRS and hearing how critical infrastructure projects like this secure water reliability for our communities.
The Yorba Linda Water District PFAS Treatment Plant was honored at the American Society of Civil Engineers - Los Angeles Section celebration event with two awards - Project of the Year and Water Treatment Project of the Year.
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 September 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 how the GWRS Final Expansion project, complete in early 2023, will increase production capacity to 130 million gallons per day.
See how OCWD is mitigating drought by increasing water supplies and securing long-term water reliability for the 2.5 million people it serves.

Water Advisory Committee of Orange County (WACO) Meeting - Friday, November 4, 2022 at 7:30 a.m.

Virtual Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) Tour - Friday, November 4, 2022 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 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 Stephen R. Sheldon
First Vice President Cathy Green
Second Vice President Tri Ta
Denis R. Bilodeau, P.E.
Gloria Ma’ae
Nelida Mendoza
Dina L. Nguyen, Esq.
Kelly E. Rowe, CFM, P.G., C.E.G., C.H.
Bruce Whitaker
Roger C. Yoh, P.E.