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.

President's Message - California's Drought Challenges Run Deep

This past year was the driest year on record. On January 17, 2014, Governor Brown declared a drought emergency and asked that all Californians voluntarily reduce their water use by 20 percent.

Then, the State Water Resources Control Board approved an emergency regulation aimed at reducing outdoor water use that went into effect in August. This regulation will be enforced at the discretion of local water retailers, who can issue fines of up to $500 for violations.

The giant water-main break near the UCLA campus, due to aged infrastructure, spewed more than 20 million gallons, enough to supply about 43,000 families of four with drinking water for a day. That deluge only aggravated the drought issue in the minds of the California public.

Recent flash storms have been welcome, but have given no relief to the drought of the century.

How dire is our situation? The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which supplies imported water from the north to supplement our groundwater basin, has total supplies of 1,038,000 acre feet (AF) and estimated demands of 2,117,000 AF for the year 2014. That is an estimated net water balance of -1,079,000AF. They have met this deficit by taking half the amount of water they have had in storage.

We've all experienced electricity brown-outs and black-outs, but we really don't want to get to the point of ever having to ration drinking water.

We can all do our part to conserve:

  • Stop excess irrigation and runoff
  • Water lawns only as needed and during early morning hours or late evenings
  • Landscape with native and/or drought-tolerant plants
  • Serve water only when requested at restaurants
  • Check for leaks
  • Do something as simple as turning the water off when you brush your teeth

Your local water provider has some great tips and incentive programs to help our region be more water efficient. Each water provider also has its own set of regulations and enforcements to comply with the statewide mandate. Go to the Drought 2014 page for a list of local water retailers' websites to learn more about conservation tips, available rebates, and the mandates and restrictions in your area.

What is the Orange County Water District Doing? The District has planned ahead by purchasing imported water over the past three years to recharge its basin, by investing in the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) that creates new water, and by investing in the initial expansion of the GWRS that will produce an additional 30 million gallons a day and go online in early 2015.

We have also invested significantly in our infrastructure over the years so we avoid incidents like the one near UCLA.

While the state and country is grappling with unstable infrastructure, some as old as 100 years or more, OCWD's oldest pipelines are less than 40 years old. To put this in perspective, a conservative lifetime of pipes is about 80 years. We also have cathodic protection systems on our pipelines to monitor for corrosion. Each pipeline undergoes a cathodic test at least every three years.

In addition to having newer infrastructure, the District's Board created a refurbishment and replacement fund, which provides the necessary money to repair our assets and replace them at the end of their useful lifetime.

Continuous planning, designing, building, monitoring, and operation of cost-effective water infrastructure projects have continued to be core functions of OCWD since its inception in 1933. In looking to the future, we will see still another GWRS expansion phase, increased treatment efficiency, improved percolation methods, and even better preparation to meet the challenges of extreme weather on local and imported supplies. The District will continue researching and expanding our water supply portfolio that might include seawater desalination and additional stormwater capture, among others.

While there is no immediate danger of water supply interruptions here in Orange County, we must continue to use our water supplies as efficiently as possible. We see water-use efficiency as a lifelong commitment because we live in an area of cyclical droughts and we never know how long each drought will last.

Recharge Basin Cleaning - Maximizing Region's Stormwater Capture

The District's effectiveness at capturing and percolating water into its recharge basins has evolved over the decades and is continuously being improved.

OCWD is currently in the process of seasonal basin cleaning, a maintenance program that removes the thin clogging layer of silt left at the bottom of each of the region's 20 recharge basins owned, managed and operated by OCWD. These storage facilities cover more than 1,000 acres in Anaheim and Orange.

Removal of that silt is primarily a construction operation performed using heavy grading equipment such as bulldozers, scrapers and motor graders. The frequency of cleaning depends on the quality of the water being recharged or replaced. Not surprisingly, the ultrapure GWRS recycled water requires the least maintenance allowing for recharge basin runtimes between cleanings of up to two years. The District also refills the recharge basins with imported water, Santa Ana River (SAR) base flows and stormwater. While SAR base flows and stormwater supplies are the least expensive, their quality causes more silt to build up in the basins, requiring more frequent basin cleanings.

This is all part of an aggressive approach to groundwater recharge that has evolved into an extremely effective system for maximizing the capture and replacement of limited water resources in our area.

Basin maintenance is an integral part to replacing water that is pumped from the Orange County Groundwater Basin from about 200 wells belonging to local water agencies, cities and other groundwater users in the Orange County region.

Celebrated Water Days and the OCWD Lab

OCWD's Advanced Water Quality Assurance Laboratory celebrates and engages in water quality on a daily basis. Because August is National Water Quality Month, and September 9 is Protect Your Groundwater Day, it seemed a fitting time to let you know a little more about its efforts.

The laboratory is certified and audited by the State Water Resources Control Board through the Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). It is also one of only three public agency labs in the nation to provide a full Unregulated Contaminants Monitoring Rule (UCMR) 3 program, which is certified by the USEPA for 7 EPA methods, which include 28 trace contaminants and chemicals of emerging concern (CECs).
The District tests for more than 500 compounds, many more than the 103 required by state and federal governments. It analyzes more than 20,000 samples each year and reports more than 400,000 results. OCWD also provides regional testing of drinking water wells for 19 local water providers to help them meet reporting requirements mandated by the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Think of the District's accomplishments this way: OCWD can monitor contaminants in its groundwater basin down to a part-per-trillion. That is like looking for one drop of contaminant in a volume of water large enough to fill 26 Olympic-size pools - a rather remarkable feat!

OCWD has taken proactive measures to ensure high-quality and safe drinking water through monitoring, participating in studies, forming work groups, and collaborating with agencies around the world to address and study water quality issues further.

New Hexavalent Chromium Regulation

In June, the Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ELAP) for the state of California began certifying laboratories for Hexavalent Chromium testing by the newer EPA Method 218.7 and OCWD's laboratory is in the process of seeking that certification.

The new 218.7 method offers distinct advantages over the 20-year-old 218.6 method. These include allowing for greater sampling and analytical flexibility with the batching of sample loads for increased efficiency and turnaround time of results. In addition, the newer method allows for a new threshold in sample pH (8 or greater) that is more easily attainable.

It's worth noting that while the California state detectable reporting limit (DLR) is set at 1 parts per billion for hexavalent chromium, the laboratory is capable of detecting 10 - 20 parts per trillion with both methods it currently uses. "In going forward, the addition of this method, to those of which OCWD is already certified, will be a definite plus for the District, resulting in more operational efficiencies," says Lee Yoo, OCWD Laboratory Director.

Regional Water Education Center Coming Soon

Notice anything different at the OCWD Fountain Valley headquarters? Demolition in the Administrative Building hallway has taken place to make room for the new Water Education Center. It will be a hands-on series of exhibits that will guide participants through the history of water in California and the Orange County region, current production facilities and above- and below-ground features of the 350-square mile Orange County Groundwater Basin that serves 2.4 million residents. The interactive project, a collaboration of OCWD with Discovery Cube (formerly Discovery Science Center), Cinnabar, and NeWater Resources, is set to debut in early 2015. The interactive displays will become an integral part of school education and vocational training programs and the OCWD tour.

Save the Date for OCWD's Groundwater Adventure Tour

The Orange County Water District has provided a reliable source of water to north and central O.C. for more than 80 years. JOIN US on a tour of the District's facilities to learn about YOUR region's water supplies and how they are managed in an environmentally, scientifically and financially sound manner. It will take place October 23rd. Stay tuned for sign-up information in the next Hydrospectives.

For information contact Crystal Nettles at cnettles@ocwd.com. Please note that priority will be given to individuals who have not previously attended.

Prado Operations Update

The Santa Ana River starts in the San Bernardino Mountains and flows through the Prado Basin to the ocean.

OCWD owns 2,150 acres behind Prado Dam in Riverside County where it operates the Prado Wetlands, the largest constructed wetland on the U.S. West Coast. The wetlands naturally remove nitrates and other contaminants from Santa Ana River flows.

Four water quality monitoring stations were recently installed at the Prado Wetlands to provide data logging and Internet uplink as part of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Research Center (ERC) / OCWD Prado Open Water Unit Process (POWUP) wetlands treatment project. The stations will record values before treatment and at the outlet of each of three treatment cells. The data will eventually be available on-line via the Internet.

The Engineering Research Center is an interdisciplinary, multi-institution research center whose goal is to change the ways in which we manage urban water. Member research institutions are Stanford University, UC Berkeley, Colorado School of Mines, and New Mexico State University. OCWD is proud to partner with such distinguished scholars on this project.

Out in the Community

OCWD staff continues to be sought after for its expertise in water reuse and groundwater management.

  • Assistant General Manager Mike Wehner recently participated in a National Science Foundation (NSF)-sponsored workshop on treatment requirements for potable reuse held in Austin, Texas. The workshop was managed by the National Water Research Institute and brought together experts from California, Texas and Arizona as well as representatives of the WateReuse Research Foundation, Water Research Foundation, USEPA, and state regulators from California and Texas. One of the key drivers for the workshop was the speed with which direct potable reuse is being developed in the State of Texas due to the current drought.
  • Eleanor Torres, Director of Public Affairs, also participated on the Independent Advisory Panel of the El Paso Water Utilities Advanced Purified Water Plant as well as the Project Advisory Committee for the WateReuse Research Foundation's research project titled Model Communication Plan for Advancing Direct Potable Reuse.
  • General Manager Mike Markus, Executive Director of Planning and Natural Resources Greg Woodside, and Recharge Planning Manager Adam Hutchinson have been working closely with the California Water Foundation, the Groundwater Resources Agency and Governor Brown's office to help create a statewide groundwater management plan. OCWD is the first and oldest special water district created by the California legislature to manage the region's groundwater basin. OCWD experts have been asked to engage and offer advice on how to better manage and sustain California's groundwater supplies.

In the News

OCWD continues to make news for its leadership and innovation:

New Employees for July 2014

OCWD's employees are its most valuable resources. We are committed to recruiting the best and enriching their lives to grow within the industry and the District family. Please join us in welcoming the following new employees:

Jeremy Evans, Apprentice Diesel Mechanic (FHQ)

Ryan Bouley, Principal Engineer

Gabrielle Lee, Laboratory Intern

July Tours

Assistant General Manager Mike Wehner, Water Production Director Bill Dunivin and OCWD Laboratory Director Lee Yoo provided a briefing and tour of the GWRS and the Laboratory for the Manager of Water Treatment Operations for Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) and the managers of each of the MWD treatment plants.

Additional tours in the month of July included members of the Groundwater Professionals Convention, who toured Fountain Valley and Forebay facilities; Irvine Ranch Water District representatives, large delegations from the cities of San Diego and Los Alamitos and LADWP stakeholders; a member of the State Water Resources Control Board; students from University of California (UC), Irvine; Senator Mimi Walters' staff and interns; West Coast University nursing students; Cinnabar staff; nursing students from California State University, Fullerton; high school students from the Solar Science Academy; students from Moreno Valley College; members of Kyoto Sangyo University/UC Riverside; students from Godinez Fundamental High School; and other members of the public.

Senior Engineer Lo Tan also conducted bilingual GWRS and laboratory tours to a delegation of faculty members from universities throughout China and a delegation from China Renming University.

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

You are receiving this email from the Orange County Water District. If you would like to be removed from OCWD's email list, please respond to this email with "Unsubscribe" in the subject line. Thank you.