Orange County Water District board approves operating agreement for $427 million groundwater replenishment system

Oct. 21, 2002
The Orange County Water District board approved a joint development, operation and maintenance agreement with the Orange County Sanitation District for the Groundwater Replenishment System.

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., Oct. 21, 2002 -- The Orange County Water District (OCWD) board of directors last week voted 8-to-1 to approve a joint development, operation and maintenance agreement with the Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) for the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWR System). The agreement now goes to the OCSD board for its vote on October 23.

The GWR System will use highly treated wastewater from OCSD and purify it to better than current drinking water quality through high-tech filtration processes, including reverse osmosis, which is used by many bottled water companies.

For 25 years, OCWD has purified sewer water to drinking water standards for injection into the groundwater basin to keep seawater out of the underground drinking water supply. As Orange County continues to use more groundwater, the GWR System will expand that process, providing a new source of water for the underground barrier as well as for OCWD's water portfolio.

The Joint Powers Agreement spans 30 years and covers Phase One of the GWR System, which is scheduled for completion in 2007. Under the agreement, OCWD and OCSD will share equally the capital costs to build the project, while OCWD will pay for operations, maintenance and repairs once the system is operational.

Benefits to OCWD include 72,000 acre-feet per year of new water, enough to meet the needs of 140,000 Orange County families annually; less water to the ocean; and OCSD benefits by not having to build another ocean outfall to handle increasing flows to the ocean.

"Policymakers need to look ahead," said Jan Flory, OCWD Director and Councilwoman from the City of Fullerton who voted for the project. "This is a project that addresses water needs we will have in 20 to 35 years. This is a vote for the future."

According to OCWD General Manager Virginia Grebbien, purified water developed through the GWR System provides an independent, locally controlled supply that diversifies OCWD's water supply portfolio; help reduce the minerals in the groundwater; and reduces OCWD's dependence on imported water.

Once completed, the GWR System will take highly treated sewer water that is currently released into the ocean, and purify it through a redundant system including microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet light with hydrogen peroxide advanced oxidation treatment, producing water similar in quality to bottled water. The purified water will become part of a seawater barrier and be pumped through a 13-mile pipeline to spreading basins in Anaheim where it will percolate into deep aquifers and blend with Orange County's other sources of groundwater, following the same natural filtering path rainwater takes through the ground.

Future work on the GWR System includes demolition of the existing, smaller Water Factory 21 water purification facility in Fountain Valley; construction of the new larger water purification facility; and construction of new injection wells, a pump station and a 13-mile pipeline from Fountain Valley to Orange County Water District's groundwater basin recharge facilities. The project is scheduled to produce purified water by 2007.

More information on the Groundwater Replenishment System can be found by visiting

Orange County Water District is a special district that was created by the California State Legislature in 1933 to maintain and manage the groundwater basin under northern and central Orange County. OCWD's groundwater basin supplies 75% of the water needs in Anaheim, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Cypress, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Irvine, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Newport Beach, Orange, Placentia, Santa Ana, Seal Beach, Stanton, Tustin, Villa Park, Westminster, and Yorba Linda.

Orange County Sanitation District is the third largest wastewater treatment system west of the Mississippi River, serving 2.2 million residents in northern and central Orange County.

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