MAY 2022
President's Message:
Water Awareness Month
Picture of OCWD Board President Stephen R. Sheldon
California is in the midst of the most severe drought on record and historic water restrictions have been implemented across the state. It’s clear that bold actions are needed to address the state’s water challenges not just now, but for future generations. As Orange County’s groundwater management agency, OCWD is protecting, increasing, and diversifying our local water supplies. 
We are expanding water recycling at the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) which will produce 130 million gallons of drinking water a day – enough to serve the needs of 1 million people daily. When complete in 2023, the GWRS Final Expansion will recycle 100% of OC San’s reclaimable flows maximizing OCWD’s reuse efforts. We’re also increasing stormwater capture at Prado Dam which will add 7,000 acre-feet of water annually into the Orange County Groundwater Basin through more precise weather forecasting, runoff modeling and watershed monitoring – enough to serve approximately 60,000 people every year. All water supply options are on the table. Whether it's exploring ocean water desalination or investing in new infrastructure, it’s our responsibility to consider all solutions. 
Our groundwater basin that provides 77% of the drinking water supply for 2.5 million people in north and central Orange County is carefully managed and we’ve worked hard since the previous drought to substantially recharge and replenish water that is pumped by our 19 cities and water retailers.
We’re also committed to enhancing the quality of our water and ensure it meets all state and federal drinking water standards. Our water quality program includes rigorous monitoring, testing, and reporting where staff perform approximately 400,000 analyses of more than 20,000 samples every year in our state-of-the-art lab. Groundwater cleanup projects and removing PFAS detected in the basin remain top priority.
Water is a precious resource that we don’t take for granted. We will continue to do everything we can to protect our current supplies and create locally-controlled, drought-proof sources. 
Statewide Leadership at ACWA
Congratulations to ACWA President Pam Tobin and Vice President Cathy Green for a successful ACWA Spring Conference under their leadership. More than 1,400 elected officials and professional staff gathered to discuss the latest issues impacting our industry. The conference offered attendees the latest information on infrastructure funding, communication practices, wildfire resilience, federal policy, groundwater management and innovative solutions to water management, and featured the launch of ACWA’s latest statewide public education campaign – Quench California.

We are proud of the expertise and experience Director Green brings to ACWA as she works to advance the organization’s mission of providing leadership, advocacy, and resources to its member agencies. We are also proud of the many OCWD staff who serve in leadership capacities for various ACWA committees including Communications, Energy, Federal Affairs, Groundwater, State Legislative, Water Management, and Water Quality. 
Check Out These Videos!
Wastewater contains clues about the resurgence of diseases once thought to be eradicated and the evolution of new diseases, such as COVID-19, and its ever-changing variants. OCWD Research Director Megan Plumlee, Ph.D., P.E, moderated a discussion entitled Wastewater Monitoring for Public Health, in partnership with Stanford University School of Engineering, to highlight how wastewater-based epidemiology may be useful for informing public health and local government response to viral diseases.
Missed our May webinar all about the California drought and regional water supplies? A recording and presentation materials are available now. Thank you to our speakers John Kennedy, OCWD's Executive Director of Engineering and Water Resources and MWD's Team Manager of the Water Resource Management Group Demetri Polyzos for providing a status of current statewide and regional water supplies, and actions that are taking place to ensure local water resiliency.
OCWD's Robust PFAS Response
Dedication Ceremony for YLWD PFAS Treatment Plant
Officials from the Orange County Water District and Yorba Linda Water District gathered to dedicate the YLWD PFAS Treatment Plant, the nation's largest ion exchange treatment plant. Located at Yorba Linda Water District, the plant became operational in December 2021 and can treat up to 25 million gallons per day. It is part of OCWD’s robust PFAS response and one of 36 treatment facilities being constructed over the next two years.
First of Four PFAS Treatment Facilities in Garden Grove Begins Operation
OCWD and the city of Garden Grove began operating one of four treatment plants being constructed in Garden Grove to remove PFAS from local well water. Garden Grove, one of 19 water providers that pump water from the groundwater basin, had five 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.

These wells are among dozens of wells throughout Orange County that were removed from service in 2020 after the state of California lowered the Response Level advisories of PFOA and PFOS, two legacy PFAS compounds no longer produced in the U.S. Located at West Haven Reservoir, the facility can treat up to five million gallons of water per day using an Ion Exchange (IX) treatment system made of highly porous resin that acts like powerful magnets that adsorb and hold onto contaminants. View this video about Garden Grove’s approach to PFAS and ensuring high-quality water for its customers.
Did You Hear?
Supervising Chemist Lily Vuong Sanchez received the Excellence in Lab Management Award, highlighting her collaborative role in supporting the lab's mission. Check out the Lab Manager spotlight article highlighting her leadership strategies.
OCWD is one of two dozen water agencies in California sponsoring new artwork about saving water. The California Water Wall mural is located just blocks away from the State Capitol and emphasizes water's importance to California, its people and the environment.
The 2020-21 Engineer’s Report on the Groundwater Conditions, Water Supply and Basin Utilization in the Orange County Water District has been prepared in accordance with the requirements of OCWD’s Act and is available on the District's website.
Our Commitment to Environmental Protection
OCWD manages the largest constructed wetlands on the west coast in the Prado Basin to naturally remove nitrates and other pollutants from Santa Ana River water. The District takes great care to balance operations while also protecting the natural habitat in and around this land. OCWD successfully implements a restoration and wildlife management program, which includes monitoring more than 350 species, the removal of non-native invasive species like the water guzzling giant Arundo donax, and habitat restoration for species such as the threatened least Bell’s vireo bird and Santa Ana sucker fish. 
Common Birds You May See in the Prado Basin

With summer in full swing, keep an eye out for these common birds you may see frequenting the area and learn more about them in this video!
Sustainably Managing the OC Groundwater Basin
Since the previous drought from 2012-2016, OCWD has worked hard to substantially refill the Orange County Groundwater Basin, which provides 77% of the drinking water supply to 19 cities and retail water agencies, serving 2.5 million people in north and central Orange County. At this time, the Basin can provide water for two consecutive years at current pumping levels even if drought conditions persist.

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 April 2022.
Thirsty for More Information?
Explore the PFAS Education Center to stay apprised of the latest PFAS issues impacting our communities.
Learn how the GWRS Final Expansion project will increase treatment capacity to 130 million gallons per day.
See how OCWD is mitigating drought by increasing water supplies and securing long-term water reliability.

Water Advisory Committee of Orange County (WACO) Meeting - Friday, June 3, 2022 at 7:30 a.m.

Virtual Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) Tour - Friday, June 3, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.

Anaheim Public Utilities OC Green Expo - Saturday, June 11 at 10 a.m. (stop by OCWD's info booth)
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.
Nelida Mendoza
Dina L. Nguyen, Esq.
Kelly E. Rowe, CFM, P.G., C.E.G., C.H.
Harry Sidhu, P.E.
Bruce Whitaker
Roger C. Yoh, P.E.