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 —
Legislative Recap 2015

The Orange County Water District (OCWD; District) has a legislative team to protect the interests of the District and its 19 groundwater producers and to proactively lead the development of new state and federal water-related legislation and policies.

Director Cathy Green's Photo
In 2015, OCWD monitored 158 California state legislative bills and 20 federal measures. The District was successful in getting bills amended that helped protect OCWD's water rights, generate funding opportunities, and create greater access to energy to operate the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) more efficiently.

State bills included AB 647 (Eggman) Beneficial use: storing of water underground; SB 355 (Lara) Act to amend Section 32605 of the Public Resources Code, relating to the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy (pertains to Prop 1 grant funding for the lower Santa Ana River); and SB 551 (Wolk) Water and Energy Efficiency.

Three state and federal measures, SB 758 (Block) Atmospheric Rivers Research, S. 1331 (Thune) Improved Seasonal Forecasts, and S. 813 (Walters) Fixing Operations of Reservoirs to Encompass Climatic and Atmospheric Science Trends, were also successfully amended to modernize weather and runoff forecasting to maximize stormwater capture at Prado Dam.

OCWD board members, staff and legislative consultants also met with county, state and federal elected officials and key leadership and staff to advocate for District projects and protect the region’s water interests. Most notably, the District worked closely with Senator Dianne Feinstein to pen legislative language for her federal drought legislation S. 1894 (California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2015), which now includes a well-funded federal water recycling and desalination local infrastructure grant program. The District is closely watching the development of this legislation for news of its enactment.

OCWD also advocated for Congress to provide full-funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) low-interest loans that were threatened by appropriations bills to fall short of the level in the President’s Fiscal Year 2016 Budget. These funds are critical for the planning, design and construction of new recycled water projects, like the GWRS, which will supply new sources of reliable and sustainable water for California. OCWD Director Denis Bilodeau testified before a House of Foreign Affairs subcommittee about the importance of GWRS-like projects for solving global water issues.

In addition to face-to-face meetings with policy makers, monitoring and drafting bills and testifying before legislative bodies, District staff and board members continued to participate in legislative committees and work groups. I recently served as a region 10 member of the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) Legislative Affairs Committee. My term will expire in January of 2016. I was recently elected as vice chair of ACWA Region 10 representing Orange and San Diego counties and will now serve on the ACWA board of directors beginning January 2016.

Each year, the District adopts a legislative platform that includes upwards to 50 policy positions from groundwater to implementation of Proposition 1 grant funding. It is updated annually and guides our advocacy efforts. Just a few of the policies the District might pursue in 2016 include:

  • Advocating that the State Board incentivize water reuse, when requiring 25 percent water conservation during times of drought or as a permanent policy, by counting Indirect Potable Reuse (IPR) as part of the 25 percent savings (or any future required savings goals);
  • Supporting legislation that allows flexibility in water rate structures and does not mandate a specific rate structure for the District's water producers, member agencies or for the cities and districts served by OCWD;
  • Opposing a public goods charge/water tax. OCWD is currently monitoring S. 20 (Pavley), which proposes to establish a new tax on customers' water bills, in the upcoming legislative session; and,
  • Supporting new legislation that would permit the bottling of reused water, which meets and exceeds state and federal drinking water standards, for educational and emergency purposes.

The District reviews legislative matters primarily at its Communications/Legislative Affairs Liaison Committee meeting, normally held the first Thursday of every month at 8 a.m. Members of the public are welcome to attend. For more information about OCWD’s legislative program, please contact Alicia Dunkin, OCWD legislative affairs liaison, at (714) 378-8232 or adunkin@ocwd.com, or visit OCWD's Legislative & community engagement page.