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.

EPA Provides Information
About North Basin
Contamination Cleanup
Representatives from the United States Environmental Protection Agency speak about the North Basin contamination cleanup at the Dec. 16 OCWD board meeting.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in its commitment to protect the public health and the environment, will be working with local agencies, businesses, communities and residents in the cities surrounding the chemical contamination in the North Basin area of the Orange County Groundwater Basin. EPA representatives spoke at the Dec. 16 Orange County Water District (the District; OCWD) board meeting. At the meeting they outlined their new regulatory oversight role in the North Basin, their reasons for considering the problem serious, and their management plan and processes going forward. The loss of three production wells and one private well in the cities of Fullerton and Anaheim was an important factor for them while considering taking a leadership role.

"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has assumed lead responsibility for the cleanup of contamination impacting the North Basin area of the Orange County Groundwater Basin, which OCWD manages. The District supports the EPA's effort and will provide assistance to the agency as needed," says OCWD Board President Cathy Green.

The EPA's actions and oversight are expected to motivate responsible parties and agencies to focus on the remedial investigation and feasibility study (RI/FS) of remediation alternatives for this important source of water to Orange County. Ensuring utilization of all of the water from a fully functional groundwater basin not only protects public health, but also ensures the long-term economic viability of all of Orange County.

In a letter to state and regional environmental offices, the EPA stated it "understands the vital importance of groundwater resources for meeting the drinking water needs of Orange County, where the groundwater basin supplies water to 22 cities and approximately 2.4 million residents. As groundwater becomes even more invaluable during this period of severe drought, EPA recognizes the necessity of preserving clean drinking water resources to continue to meet the current and future drinking water needs of Southern California."

The northern section of OCWD's groundwater basin (under Fullerton, Anaheim, and Placentia), and portions of the shallow and principal aquifers are impacted with volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. From the late 1950s through early 1980s, VOCs were used for industrial degreasing in metals and electronics manufacturing.

Although the shallow aquifer is not directly being pumped for drinking water use, it eventually flows into the deeper principal aquifer, which is the primary source of drinking water. It is urgent, therefore, to control and remove the higher levels of contamination from the shallow aquifer before it has a chance to contaminate the main aquifer.

OCWD and local water agencies continue to monitor the contamination plume and water supplies to ensure only clean water is delivered to homes and businesses.

EPA representatives sent invitation letters on Dec. 15 to parties that have shown an interest in the RI/FS. The invitees have until February 2016 to reply.

Additionally, the EPA has provided OCWD with a Model Administrative Order on Consent (AOC) and Statement of Work (SOW) to consider. The AOC will be used to define OCWD’s ongoing collaborative role in the EPA-directed project.

At the board meeting, the EPA provided the following schedule:

  • RI/FS discussion with willing responders —begins Feb. 2016
  • AOC/work plan negotiations—early 2016
  • Remedial Investigation—2016-2017
  • Feasibility Study—2017-2018

The EPA will proactively provide information to affected communities regarding the North Basin Cleanup and invite additional interested parties to participate in the process. Their goal is to work as efficiently as possible and leave the North Basin area a safer, cleaner place. This will benefit residents and businesses locally and throughout Orange County.

To view a copy of EPA's presentation, click HERE.