OCWD Board of Directors

Cathy Green
First Vice President
Denis R. Bilodeau, P.E.
Second Vice President
Philip L. Anthony
Jordan Brandman
Shawn Dewane
Jan M. Flory, ESQ.
Dina L. Nguyen, ESQ.
Roman Reyna
Stephen R. Sheldon
Roger C. Yoh, P.E.
General Manager
Michael R. Markus
P.E., D.WRE.

In This Issue:
President's Message
Flory appointed to OCWD Board
GWRS Honored with U.S. Water Prize
Update on OCWD's Ocean Desal Exploration
OCWD Expert Appointed to National Research Council (NRC) Committee
Prado Open Water Unit Process (POWUP) Wetland Monitoring & Research Program
OCWD Recognizes 635 Years of Employee Service
OCWD Employee of the Year
OCWD January 2014 Employee of the Month

President's Message:
Orange County's Planning and Investing for a Not-So Rainy Day is Paying Off

Shawn Dewane
Governor Brown recently declared California is in a state of emergency due to the drought. His proclamation gives state water officials more flexibility to manage supply throughout California under drought conditions. This announcement should not come as a surprise to Southern Californians being that we live in a semi-desert region. The average rainfall in the region is 13”; however, rainfall in 2013 was a mere 3.6”, making it the driest year on record. The declaration has caused a bit of panic and rightfully so. Cities, businesses and residents rely on water for economic growth and sustainability, and to preserve public health. Orange County's gross domestic product is $188.9 billion and its taxable sales are $51.7 billion, making it the 39th largest economy in the world. So, do we have enough water supplies to get us through this drought and support our vital economy?

I am pleased to say Orange County will weather these dry conditions better than other California regions thanks to many of you who have supported investments in local water infrastructure projects and have made personal commitments to implement water use efficiency measures in your homes and businesses. Thank you for having the foresight to make these investments and change water use habits. Despite increases in our local population, total water demands for our region have remained relatively stable which shows we are becoming more efficient in our water use. You are about to see some of the benefits of these past actions, but we are still not completely out of the woods.

So how good of a position are we in and how long can we hold on? As I have mentioned before, north and central Orange County are in a unique position having a local groundwater basin. Groundwater levels are falling quickly, but are still within their normal historic operating range.

In California, we are expected to experience droughts three out of every ten years. Knowing this probability, the Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) saves reserve funds to prepare for and respond to drought conditions. The District spent $44 million, from accumulated reserves, in FY 2011-12 purchasing 92,000 acre-feet (af) (One acre-foot of water is enough to serve two families for a year) of imported water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD). This helped to refill the groundwater basin despite receiving less than average Santa Ana River (SAR) flows due to the drought that year. This strategy put Orange County in a better position than other regions.

When full, the groundwater basin as a reservoir holds about 500,000 af of water. We began the year with approximately 210,000 af in storage. If we have another dry year we expect our storage levels to fall to about 140,000 af as of June 2014. Storage levels have been this low in the past; however, seawater intrusion from the Pacific Ocean can become a bigger threat with the lower water levels.

Additionally, there is very little water storage available in case imported water supplies are significantly reduced. OCWD is currently spending its remaining water reserve funds – about $22 million – on additional MWD imported water this year while it is available to help counter the impact of reduced rainfall on the groundwater basin.

In addition to saving for a not-so rainy day, continuous planning, designing, building and operations of cost-effective water infrastructure projects have been core functions of OCWD for more than 80 years. The community's investment in water infrastructure is fundamental to help our region sustain drought conditions. With community support, OCWD recently invested $142 million to expand the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS), an award-winning water purification system that takes treated wastewater from the Orange County Sanitation District and purifies it to meet or exceed drinking water standards. The expansion, which will be completed in early 2015, will produce an additional 30 million gallons a day (MGD) and 32,000 acre-feet per year, taking GWRS production to 100 MGD. In addition to being drought-resistant, GWRS water is about half the cost of imported supplies and is controlled locally, saving cities in our service area millions of dollars annually. The expansion will allow stable, if not more, pumping from the groundwater basin.

Other investments made by local water agencies, such as the Irvine Ranch Water District and Mesa Water District, to construct wells and treatment plants that access isolated pockets of groundwater, have also reduced our region's need for imported water. And MWD's local agency, the Municipal Water District of Orange County, has implemented water conservation programs that have helped make the region more efficient with the supplies we receive.

While the GWRS, successful groundwater management, local infrastructure and conservation have made the region significantly less vulnerable to drought compared to other cities in California, we need to continue to do more to protect and maximize water supplies not only in Orange County, but throughout California. We need to maximize water reuse in California and tap into the 1.3 billion gallons of treated wastewater from our sewer systems that get discharged to the Pacific Ocean every day in Southern California; we need to continue to practice water-use efficiency year-round, not just in times of drought; and, we need to explore other possible solutions, such as ocean desalination and water transfers. Orange County can breathe a little easier than other communities due to our past efforts, but as weather patterns continue to become more extreme, we need to keep planning and investing in our water infrastructure if we want to continue to have a reliable water supply.

Flory Appointed to OCWD Board

Council Member Jan M. Flory, Esq. was appointed to OCWD's Board of Directors by the Fullerton City Council to represent the city of Fullerton, Division 10, effective January 22, 2014. Flory replaced Bruce Whitaker who recently served sixteen months on OCWD's Board. Not a newcomer to OCWD, Flory previously served on the Board from 1999 through 2002.

Director Flory is a longtime public servant and resident of Fullerton. In November 2012, she was re-elected to the Council. She previously served on it from October 1994 through December 2002 and was the Mayor in 1998-99, and Mayor Pro Tem in 1997-98 and 2001-02. For Director Flory's complete bio, please visit The OCWD Board of Directors and Service Area Map.

GWRS Honored with U.S. Water Prize

U.S. Water Alliance President Ben Grumbles recently announced Orange County Water District and Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) will be recipients of the 2014 U.S. Water Prize. Their joint project, the Groundwater Replenishment System, was recognized as a global leader in reclamation and reuse. The award-winning project and its current expansion were lauded as a tremendous effort to reduce regional water insecurity and recharge precious supplies.

The two public agencies have worked together for more than 30 years and are leading the way in water recycling and providing a locally-controlled, drought-proof supply of high-quality water in an environmentally sensitive manner.

The U.S. Water Prize was initiated four years ago by the U.S. Water Alliance to elevate those organizations with strategies that promote the value of water and the power of innovating and integrating for “one water sustainability.” OCWD and OCSD, along with three other winners, will be honored in an awards ceremony on April 7, 2014, at National Geographic headquarters in Washington D.C. To read the complete award press release, please visit: U.S. Water Prize Announcement.

Update on OCWD's Ocean Desal Exploration

As part of a working group made up of cities and water districts in Orange County, OCWD executed a confidentiality agreement in April 2010 to receive information from Poseidon Resources to study its proposed ocean desalination facility in Huntington Beach. On June 24, 2013, the OCWD Board of Directors approved executing an amendment to the agreement, giving OCWD access to additional information to study the economic feasibility of the project that may lead to a water purchase agreement for the entire production capacity of the plant.

Currently, OCWD continues to explore the feasibility of ocean desalination in an ongoing effort to diversify its water portfolio and ensure water reliability. Most recently, at the January 8, 2014 OCWD Board meeting, staff presented preliminary information about the proposed desalination project. The report included information about projected water reliability, project costs, comparisons to imported water rates, project structure, and impacts the recent coastal commission action may have on the cost of the project. This preliminary report is currently being reviewed by the 19 cities and agencies served by OCWD.

Community members are encouraged to review the report and offer their comments to the Board by February 28, 2014. It can be viewed at: Ocean Desalination Exploration and the Ocean Desalination Citizens' Advisory Committee. Comments and questions may be submitted to oceandesalexploration@ocwd.com. Prior meeting agendas, reports, studies and press releases may also be found on this site. Additional data will be posted as it becomes available.

OCWD Expert Appointed to National Research Council (NRC) Committee

OCWD Executive Director of Planning and Natural Resources Greg Woodside was appointed to serve on the National Academy of Sciences' National Research Council (NRC) Committee to review the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Program-Phase 1 (The Program). The Program was designed to resolve the longstanding conflict between the federal mandate to protect threatened and endangered species associated with the Edwards Aquifer, located in south central Texas, and the region's dependence on the same aquifer as its primary water resource.

The 12-member interdisciplinary NRC Committee will focus on the adequacy of the body of scientific information used to determine the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan's (EAHCP) biological goals and objectives. Additionally, it will study relationships among proposed conservation measures and the biological goals and objectives. The Committee will perform its review from 2014 to 2018 and produce three reports.

To read the full press release regarding Woodside's appointment, please visit: OCWD Expert Appointed to National Research Council Committee.

Prado Open Water Unit Process (POWUP) Wetland Monitoring & Research Program


The District has begun a research project at its Prado Wetlands with the National Science Foundation-supported Engineering Research Center (ERC) for Re-Inventing the Nation's Urban Water Infrastructure (ReNUWIt). The POWUP project will test a new open-water wetlands treatment concept in a larger scale than previously attempted. The open-water concept has shown promise in smaller scale pilot-testing in the town of Discovery Bay, located near Stockton, California. The open-water system will not contain intentionally-planted vegetation and will be operated at a shallow depth (20 – 30 cm). The system relies on sunlight for photochemical treatment, as well as the establishment of a biologically-active periphyton community on the wetland bottom. Periphyton is comprised of a complex community of algae, bacteria, other microbes, and plant matter. The research will assess the treatment performance of the open-water system for constituents such as nitrate and trace organics, along with the associated maintenance requirements. It is hypothesized that the open-water system can be linked with other types of wetlands to provide a series of unit treatment processes that collectively provide a broad spectrum of water quality benefits.

An existing pond at Prado has been reconfigured into three open-water cells, each approximately 800 feet in length by 100 feet in width. The three test cells began receiving water in November 2013 and can be operated in parallel or in series. Some background water quality testing will occur this winter while the periphyton layer develops. District staff will operate the system, assist with onsite water quality sample collection, and provide some laboratory analysis. The ReNUWIt team will provide additional laboratory analysis, data review and management, operational guidelines, and design a suite of online sensors allowing for remote water quality and flow monitoring. The ReNUWIt ERC is comprised of researchers from Stanford University, UC-Berkeley, Colorado School of Mines, and New Mexico State University; the District is also a member of ReNUWIt's Industrial/Practitioner Advisory Board.

OCWD Recognizes 635 Years of Employee Service

OCWD employs 216 people at its facilities in Fountain Valley, Anaheim and the Prado Wetlands in Corona. It recently recognized 43 of them for five or more years of employment. Combined, these employees have provided more than 635 years of dedicated service to the District. OCWD thanks these employees and recognizes their dedication and commitment, which help the District carry out its mission. Following is a complete list of those recognized:

35 years: Philip Harrington

30 years: Randy English

25 years: Grisel Rodriguez, Joaquin Ferreyra, Donald Jackson, Michael Markus, Gregory Wietki, Donna Pike, Mark Yamamoto, Roy Herndon, Timothy Sovich, Steven Clark

20 years: Ken Ishida, Kaukaba Naggar, Lorenzo Jackson, Mick Riopka, Tom Knoell, Lynn McConnell

15 years: Alex Vue, Laura Liang, Julio Langarica, Darlene Lipinski-Fagan

10 years: Noe Valdez, Tam Nguyen, Matt Buis, Nicole Nguyen, Andre Casasola, Karen Warren, Rose Wilke

5 years: Gina Ayala, Frank Chavez, Benjamin Lockhart, Kevin O'Toole, James Smith, Scott Nygren, James Haydock, Juan Ramirez, Julie Combs, Monica Villalvazo, Randy Fick, Karen Underhill, Michael Centro

Thank you and congratulations to OCWD's service award recipients!

OCWD Employee of the Year

The OCWD employee of the month and year program was established to recognize outstanding District employees and to acknowledge their contributions to OCWD. The program commends employees for exemplary work, dedication and innovation. Each month an employee may be nominated by peers or supervisors to receive the EOM designation. At the end of the calendar year, all EOMs for the given year are eligible to be voted employee of the year (EOY); all employees may cast a vote to select the EOY.

Don Houlihan was voted to receive the 2013 EOY and was also the June EOM. As recharge operations supervisor, Don is responsible for oversight of OCWD's recharge operations, which include planning for storms and imported water deliveries, coordinating the movement of water around the District's various recharge operations and conveyances, and scheduling the cleanings and maintenance of basins at dozens of geographically diverse locations. Over the past several years, Don has received various promotions and has assumed challenging responsibilities. His experience, work ethic, and natural ability to lead have served as a positive example to others.

Don was recognized at the January 22 board meeting. Congratulations Don!

OCWD January 2014 Employee of the Month

Scott Nygren was selected January Employee of the Month. He manages the maintenance and operational duties of the Prado wetlands. In addition to these responsibilities, he recently played a significant role in the POWUP Wetland Monitoring and Research Program. Scott and his staff worked with university professors and graduate students, possessing limited field experience, to construct the new open-water ponds and implement the research team's ideas. His enthusiasm, flexibility, and "can-do" attitude have been invaluable and will continue to serve the project in the operational phase.

Congratulations Scott!


During the 2013 calendar year, OCWD conducted 192 tours for 3,408 guests. It is committed to proactive public outreach and education.

The following guests recently toured the GWRS in the month of December: nursing students from California State University, Fullerton; San Bernardino Valley College students; staff from the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power and members of its ratepayer advocate group; Dennis Popp of the Daily Pilot and Lee Ramos; attendees of the Orange County WateReuse chapter meeting; Dr. Laura Onyango from the University of New South Wales, Australia; California Water, Parks & Wildlife Committee Chief Consultant Tina Cannon-Leahy; staff from San Jose-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility; and staff from WaveCrest Chemical, Inc.

Public tours of the Groundwater Replenishment System are offered at
10 a.m. on the first Friday of every month; reservations are required. Tours may be scheduled for other days of the week, depending on staff availability. To schedule a tour or to request more information, please contact Becky Mudd at (714) 378-3362 or bmudd@ocwd.com. To schedule a speaker, please contact Rose Wilke at (714) 378-3206 or rwilke@ocwd.com. You may also visit www.ocwd.com to schedule these activities online.

18700 Ward Street
Fountain Valley, CA 92708
(714) 378-3200

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