Highlights from September 2023

The OCWD logo

President's Message:

Turning a New Leaf: Upcoming Water Programs

and Events 

The fall season is officially upon us, and we have lots of great programs to look forward to! I want to start this month’s message by sending my sincere thank you to ACWA and its member agencies for electing me as ACWA President for the 2024-25 term. I am honored to serve and look forward to working with agencies across the state to address our water needs.  


California’s Water Professionals Appreciation Week will kick off October 7, highlighting the important role of water industry professionals and local public water agencies in ensuring safe and reliable water, wastewater, and recycled water operations in California. Thank you to the more than 220 OCWD staff who work hard around the clock, every day to maintain our mission of providing a safe, reliable water supply. Because of their dedication and commitment to effectively managing our local resources, the Orange County Groundwater Basin continues to deliver high-quality drinking water to our 19 water retailers and the 2.5 million people they serve.


Right around the corner is the 15th Annual OC Water Summit. Join us on Friday, October 13 at the Westin South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa and explore a broad range of local and statewide water issues under the theme, Finding Reliability. Read more about the session topics in this month’s newsletter or view the full program and schedule on the OC Water Summit website.


And don’t forget about the 2023 Fall ACWA Conference & Expo, held November 28-30 in Indian Wells. We’ve got an exciting line-up of speakers, networking sessions, and exhibitors. I hope to see you there!  

OC Water Summit: Last Call to Register

The 15th Annual OC Water Summit is set to take place on October 13, 2023 at the Westin South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa. Join master of ceremonies Fritz Coleman along with hundreds of business professionals, elected officials, academics, and water leaders as we explore Finding Reliability.


World-renowned experts, prominent authors and distinguished speakers will deliver presentations and dive into the topics below.


Session Topics:

  • Drought or Missed Opportunities?
  • Are Infrastructure Funds the New Lottery?
  • Is It Fair to Blame Climate Change for Everything?
  • What's Our Water Supply Future?


Tickets: An individual ticket is $175, which includes continental breakfast, buffet lunch, self-parking, and event materials.


The OC Water Summit is hosted by the Orange County Water District and the Municipal Water District of Orange County. For more information and to register, please visit the OC Water Summit website.

Groundwater Recharge Operations

GRA Visits La Palma Basin

Thank you, members of Groundwater Resources Association's (GRA) Southern California branch, for visiting us and touring the La Palma Basin. This basin is one of the District’s 26 recharge basins that store water from a variety of sources, eventually percolating into the Orange County Groundwater Basin and becoming part of the region’s drinking water supply. This particular basin, located in Anaheim, stores purified wastewater produced from the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS). Favorable geology at this site and ultra–pure water from the GWRS have resulted in the District’s highest percolation rates measured so far. 

Virtual Groundwater Recharge Tour

Interested in learning more about the District’s recharge system? Meet some of our team members who will take you on a virtual tour of our groundwater recharge systems. You'll see and learn how the District uses stormwater, recycled water and other sources to refill the Orange County Groundwater Basin, which supplies 85% of the water needs to 2.5 million people in north and central Orange County.

GWRS Honored for Innovation, Water Supply Reliability

GWRS continues to be recognized for its innovative approach in providing a new, local water supply. The California Special Districts Association (CSDA) recently presented its Innovative Project of the Year, Large District, Award to OCWD and OC San at its annual conference. This award recognizes the completion of the GWRS and our efforts to recycle 100% of OC San’s reclaimable wastewater flows into high-quality drinking water.

The water produced from the GWRS, about 130 million gallons a day, gets injected into the Orange County Groundwater Basin and the District’s seawater intrusion barrier. The GWRS increases drinking water supplies in Orange County and decreases the need to import water from outside sources, offering a more cost-effective and energy-efficient water supply.


Check out this great video CSDA put together highlighting the project and its benefits! 📺

GWRS Bottled Water Out and About

Did you know OCWD bottles GWRS water? 💧 In 2016, OCWD and OC San, with the support of WateReuse California, helped to get passage of assembly bill 2022, which allows the limited bottling of advanced purified product water for educational purposes. OCWD and OC San were the first in the Western Hemisphere to do this.


Earlier this year, a commemorative edition of GWRS bottled water was unveiled to celebrate the facility’s 15th anniversary and the completion of its final expansion, which provides 130 million gallons of drinking water a day. Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA) in Reno, Nevada recently hosted a public tour and featured GWRS bottled water as part of their efforts to educate the community on water reuse. Thanks, TMWA, for spreading the word and using our water as an example of the many water reuse benefits! 


There are limited numbers of GWRS bottled water available. If you are interested in receiving a bottle, please contact us at info@ocwd.com.

Sharing Our Innovation With Others

The 6th Annual Water Treatment Innovation and Networking (WIN) Workshop, hosted by the Bureau of Reclamation's Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility, will take place on October 24 and 25.


Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in a thought-provoking panel discussion on PFAS contamination and mitigation, featuring our very own Research Director Megan Plumlee, Ph.D., P.E., who will deliver a keynote presentation. Dr. Plumlee will share her extensive knowledge, cutting-edge research, and innovative strategies to address the challenges posed by PFAS.

Mehul Patel, P.E, Executive Director of Operations, will participate on a panel presentation titled, "The Water Reuse Landscape Through the Eyes of Industry Leaders," at this year's Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC).


He will talk about the District's proactive leadership role in water reuse, dating back to the 1970s with the development of Water Factory 21, an advanced wastewater reclamation plant and desalter, to today, operating the GWRS, the world's largest water recycling facility.

Cathy Green Elected as ACWA President for 2024-25 Term

Congratulations to OCWD Director Cathy Green, elected to serve as the ACWA President for the 2024-25 term!


“What a tremendous honor,” said Green. “I truly have a passion to serve ACWA and I am committed to fulfilling its mission to provide comprehensive leadership, advocacy and resources for California’s public water agencies to ensure a high-quality water supply in an environmentally sustainable and fiscally responsible manner.” 


Green currently serves as the vice president of ACWA and has been an active member of the association for more than a decade. She has been a member of ACWA’s Board of Directors since 2012 and its Executive Committee since 2020. Previously, Green served two terms as Region 10 chair, one term as Region 10 vice chair, and has served on ACWA’s Water Quality and Energy committees, as well as on ACWA’s State Legislative Committee. Green’s leadership, experience and knowledge of the water industry will serve ACWA well as it works to address challenges and implement water supply solutions. 


Green will succeed current ACWA President Pam Tobin who completes her term December 31, 2023. Green will officially take office January 1, 2024, alongside Vice President-elect Ernie Avila.

OCWD Recruitment: General Manager

OCWD is recruiting for its next General Manager following the announcement of current GM Mike Markus' plans for retirement. Since 2007, Mike, who has more than 40 years of experience in water resource management, has served at the helm of OCWD, becoming only the sixth GM in the District’s history.


OCWD is searching for its next General Manager who will lead the organization on highly complex issues that ensure a continued healthy groundwater basin and a reliable local water supply. The ideal candidate must be a visionary and strategic leader, manage a high-performing organization, and maintain a culture of collaboration inside and outside the organization. Review the job description and brochure for more information. The recruitment closes on October 6.

Thirsty for More Information?

Learn about OCWD's role in providing a safe, reliable, local water supply by attending an event, webinar or tour. Individuals and groups are invited to tour the award-winning GWRS and other District facilities. Through our active speakers bureau program, you may request for our expert staff to come speak to organizations and schools, as well as local, national and international conferences. 

Virtual Water Advisory Committee of Orange County (WACO) Meeting - Friday, October 6 at 7:30 a.m.


Virtual GWRS Tour - Friday, October 6 at 10:00 a.m.


OC Water Summit: Finding Reliability - Friday, October 13 from 7:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.


WAITLIST for the Groundwater Adventure Tour - Friday, October 27 from 8:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

The Orange County Water District manages the local groundwater basin that provides 85% of the water supply for 19 cities and retail water districts in north and central Orange County, serving 2.5 million people. Guided by its commitment to sound planning and investment, high standards for water reliability, exceptional water quality, environmental stewardship, sound financial management, and transparency, OCWD has proactively implemented initiatives to protect and increase local water supplies. OCWD replenishes the basin, prevents seawater intrusion, and protects Orange County’s rights to Santa Ana River water.
President Cathy Green
First Vice President Denis R. Bilodeau, P.E.
Second Vice President Van Tran, Esq.
Valerie Amezcua
Natalie Meeks
Dina L. Nguyen, Esq.
Kelly E. Rowe, CFM, P.G., C.E.G., C.H.
Stephen R. Sheldon
Bruce Whitaker
Roger C. Yoh, P.E.

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For more information, please visit www.ocwd.com and follow @OCWaterDistrict on social media.