Highlights from November 2022
President's Message:
Thankful, and Prepared, for Rain
In November, elections occurred, we honored military veterans of the United States Armed Forces on Veterans Day, and most recently, we celebrated Thanksgiving with our loved ones. I would like to congratulate those who were newly elected and re-elected to water board, local, state, and federal positions. I look forward to working with you, alongside my colleagues, on important issues that ensure a reliable water supply for Orange County.
Speaking of Thanksgiving, I am also thankful for the early November Southern California storm that brought 2.28 inches of rain to the region. Much of that water will be stored at more than two dozen recharge basins in Anaheim and Orange, and will naturally percolate into the Orange County Groundwater Basin, providing 77% of the drinking water supply for 2.5 million people in north and central Orange County. Rain that falls upstream in the San Bernardino Riverside areas travels down the Santa Ana River, is stored behind Prado Dam in Corona, and released at a rate we can capture and eventually recharge into the Basin. A big thanks to our staff who always work hard to ensure our basins are maximized for stormwater capture and enhanced storage opportunities.
Since it appears we will receive rain in early December and hopefully the rest of December, OCWD will continue to capture every single possible drop for storage in our basins and aquifer. But just in case we don’t, OCWD continues to plan and invest in projects and programs that bring increased supplies to the region—and for that we all give thanks!
Maintaining 'AAA' Rating from Fitch Ratings
OCWD is proud to maintain a ‘AAA’ Rating from Fitch Ratings for the 15th consecutive year. This achievement recognizes the District’s strong financial profile in the context of strong revenue defensibility and very low operating risks. OCWD’s revenues are derived primarily from annual groundwater pumping assessments and property taxes, which have been stable over time. In addition, the District maintains financial reserves and completes extensive financial reporting that includes year-to-year budget reports and third-party audits.

For more than 89 years, the District has carefully managed the Orange County Groundwater Basin that provides 77% of the region’s water demand. Today, the District continues to increase local water supplies and invest in a diversified water supply portfolio. The District’s excellent financial standing has allowed us to provide greater water reliability for the region by financing and securing lower cost funding for critical water infrastructure projects. 
Presented with Platinum Award for Utility Excellence
The Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) presented OCWD with the prestigious Platinum Award for Utility Excellence. The award is given to agencies that demonstrate a strong record of effective utility management and a significant contribution to the drinking water industry.

The Platinum Award recognizes the District’s initiatives to protect and increase water supplies including expanding water recycling at the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS), increasing stormwater capture with Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations (FIRO), storing water across the region through the Santa Ana River Conservation and Conjunctive Use Program, researching and developing new technologies to enhance operations, and removing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) detected in local water supplies. Additional judging criteria included financial viability, community and stakeholder engagement, risk and resiliency, and employee development.

OCWD previously won AMWA’s Gold Award for Exceptional Utility Performance in 2019. Gold Award winners are eligible to apply for the Platinum Award three years after achieving the gold level. OCWD earned its Platinum recognition in its first year of eligibility, demonstrating progress in implementing key management attributes and expanding upon past achievements.
Addressing PFAS in Orange County
Despite challenges that come our way, such as PFAS contamination, our staff responds quickly and efficiently to maintain our mission of providing a high-quality, reliable drinking water supply to 2.5 million people in Orange County.

We’ve brought eight treatment plants online in the cities of Fullerton, Garden Grove, and Orange and at the Serrano and Yorba Linda water districts, and we’re on track to have 36 facilities up and running by 2024.
A dedication ceremony was held recently for the Serrano Water District PFAS treatment plant. Many elected officials who supported this effort were in attendance including water board members from Serrano and OCWD and U.S. Representative Young Kim (CA-39). Take a look at this video to learn more about our proactive and swift efforts to address PFAS in Orange County.
We continue to educate our stakeholders on OCWD’s comprehensive and robust PFAS response through our 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
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. Registration is open and there is no cost to attend, however, please register early as space is limited! We have already reached capacity for March 30.

The Festival presents a unique opportunity to educate third, fourth and fifth grade students through hands-on presentations and activities and help them understand how they can protect water supplies and their environment.

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.
Sharing our Expertise with Others
At OCWD, we're proud to share our knowledge and expertise with the industry and beyond - and we do this in many ways - providing presentations, supporting grant-funded projects, and publishing our research for others to learn from. Check out a couple of highlights below!

OCWD is supporting a grant effort that will evaluate new technology used in potable water reuse applications. The District, along with Entanglement Technologies, Southern Nevada Water Authority, Hach Company, and Colorado School of Mines were named recipients of a grant from the Water Research Foundation to implement a real-time analyzer to detect specific volatile organic compounds (VOCs) at low detection limits prior to and after reverse osmosis (RO) wastewater treatment. 

Executive Director of Operations Mehul Patel, P.E., delivered the keynote presentation at the Southwest Membrane Operator Association 2022 Conference highlighting OCWD's pioneering role in water reuse advancement.
SARS-CoV-2 genetic material is removed during municipal wastewater treatment and is undetectable after advanced treatment was published in Science Direct, featuring the following OCWD staff: Dr. Julio Polanco, Scientist; Jana Safarik, Principal Scientist; and Dr. Megan Plumlee, P.E., Research Director.

Pilot-scale comparison of granular activated carbons, ion exchange, and alternative adsorbents for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances removal was published in AWWA Science, featuring the following OCWD staff: Dr. Meeta Pannu, Senior Scientist; Christine Pham, Scientist; and Dr. Megan Plumlee, P.E., Research Director.
Special Anniversary Coming Up!
We are proud to announce and celebrate a special anniversary coming up! On January 18, 2023, the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) celebrates 15 years of operation.

The GWRS is the world's largest water purification system for indirect potable reuse, which takes highly treated wastewater that would have previously been discharged into the Pacific Ocean and purifies it - producing high-quality water that meets all state and federal drinking water standards. GWRS is an important part of the District's water supply portfolio. Online since 2008, it has produced more than 395 billion gallons of water (that's over 1.2 million acre-feet of water.)

Follow the District's social media pages to commemorate the 15th anniversary with us! From mid-December 2022 to January 2023, we encourage you to share your own content, like and share ours, or just tune in to learn more about the facility. If you're sharing your favorite memories of the GWRS (we'd love to hear them!), don't forget to tag or mention OCWD and our partners OC San, and use the following hashtags: #GWRS #15YearsofGWRS #CrystalClear
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 October 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.
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
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.