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 –
30 Million Gallons of New
Water for Orange County
May's surprise spring showers and snow brought enthusiasm to Southern Californians, but less than enthusiastic precipitation numbers and little relief to our current drought.

But keep your spirits up. There is still something to be very excited about, especially if you live in central or north Orange County.

The Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) Initial Expansion came online in June, providing an additional 30 million gallons of pure water a day (MGD).

That's a total amount of 100 MGD, enough water for about 850,000 people annually. The GWRS was and remains the largest advanced water purification system for indirect potable use in the world.

Toasting the Initial Expansion of the GWRS. (left to right) OCWD Board Member Philip Anthony; Tom Beamish, chair, Orange County Sanitation District; Honorable Travis Allen (California Assembly District 72); OCWD Board Member Denis Bilodeau; OCWD President Cathy Green; Honorable John Moorlach (California State Senator, 37th District); and Honorable Matthew Harper (California State Assembly, 74th District). Photo courtesy of Black & Veatch Corporation.

In 2008, OCWD and the Orange County Sanitation District made history with the opening of the GWRS, which takes treated wastewater and purifies it to meet or exceed state and federal drinking water standards.

I am delighted to say that we have made history again.

Since its inception, the GWRS has produced more than 155 billion gallons of water. To purchase that same amount from imported supplies from Northern California or the Colorado River would have cost $318 million dollars.

Through sound planning and investment, two expansions were part of the plan from the start to keep costs to a minimum. A significant portion of the initial expansion infrastructure was already built into the system when the GWRS first came online in 2008. In fact, the ultimate capacity of the GWRS includes a final expansion that will take total water production to 130 MGD.

The $142 million initial expansion not only increases output to 100 MGD at a typical average cost of $520 an acre-foot, it decreases dependence on costly imported water from Northern California and the Colorado River, uses half of the energy required to deliver imported water to the region, provides reliability in an area plagued by cyclical droughts, and protects the environment by decreasing the amount of treated wastewater in our ocean and reusing a precious resource.

In addition, a new energy recovery device will help prevent the 50 to 60 pounds per square inch loss of pressure experienced during the reverse osmosis (RO) process and will, in turn, reduce the amount of energy being used during the RO process.

California is in a dire situation. The GWRS is Orange County's shining example of forward thinking and environmental stewardship that will help to save us on those not so rainy days.

Three components comprise the GWRS:

  • The Advanced Water Purification Facility at OCWD headquarters in Fountain Valley, Calif., which purifies the OCSD treated wastewater through microfiltration, reverse osmosis, and ultraviolet light with hydrogen peroxide
  • The Seawater Intrusion Barrier in Huntington Beach, Calif., and in Fountain Valley, Calif., whose injection wells receive approximately 30 MGD of the final product water
  • Kraemer and Miller basins in Anaheim, Calif., which receive the remaining final product water mixed with imported water and Santa Ana River water in OCWD's groundwater basin; Anaheim's Miraloma Basin receives unmixed GWRS product water