CA water district awarded Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize for water reuse efforts

Feb. 18, 2014
The Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize 2014 was awarded to The Orange County Water District in California for its work in groundwater management and water reclamation.

SINGAPORE, Feb. 18, 2014 -- The Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize 2014 was recently awarded to The Orange County Water District (OCWD) in the state of California for its exceptional work in groundwater management and water reclamation using advanced water reuse technologies, as well as for its achievements in public policy and community outreach. The highlight of the Singapore International Water Week (SIWW), The Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize is an international water award recognizing outstanding contributions toward solving global water problems by either applying innovative technologies or implementing policies and programs that benefit humanity.

The sixth recipient of the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize, OCWD piloted Water Factory 21 in the 1970s, the first facility in the world to successfully demonstrate that potable-grade-quality recycled water can be reliably produced from treated used water effluent through an advanced water purification system relying on reverse osmosis (RO) and granular activated carbon. Since then, based on research and demonstration efforts by OCWD, a three-stage advanced treatment process of microfiltration, RO and ultraviolet (UV)/hydrogen peroxide has been established as the standard for potable water reuse in the industry.

With this track record, OCWD launched the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) in 2008 to replace Water Factory 21. The reclaimed water that GWRS produces is injected into a series of injection wells to create a hydraulic barrier that guards against seawater intrusion, preventing contamination of drinking water wells. It also provides a new source of high-quality water for year-round recharge to the aquifer. The GWRS is currently capable of supplying 70 mgd (or 265,000 m3/d) of water, enough to meet the needs of about 600,000 people. This water supply is produced using half the energy required to pump water from Northern California -- saving enough energy to power 21,000 homes each year. To date, 125 billion gallons of water (443,000 megalitres) have been produced by the GWRS.
PUB Chief Executive Chew Men Leong congratulating Michael R. Markus, General Manager of the Orange County Water District, on winning the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize 2014. (Photo credit: Hill+Knowlton Strategies)

In addition, an Independent Advisory Panel was established that comprises experts from fields such as toxicology, microbiology, public health, and environmental engineering to ensure a comprehensive and sound assessment of water reuse and aquifer recharge efforts. This provides public confidence that critical aspects of the projects have been independently and scientifically scrutinized. This comprehensive implementation model pioneered by OCWD also includes public outreach and engagement, paving the way for public acceptance of water recycling for indirect potable use. It has been replicated in countries such as Australia and Singapore and in the states of Colorado and Texas to achieve water sustainability through water reuse, ultimately benefitting millions in the process.

OCWD also has a robust water education program that includes its annual Children's Water Education Festival, the largest festival of its kind in the United States. Co-hosted by the National Water Research Institute and the Disneyland Resort, it exposes children to hands-on instruction about water and environmental issues. OCWD co-hosts the annual OC Water Summit as well, bringing together business professionals, water leaders, policy makers, and scientists to discuss pressing water issues and vet possible solutions. The organization also co-created the Water Hero Program, which inspires students to make a commitment to water conservation. OCWD staff serves on prominent and prestigious boards and expert panels that help solve global water problems and are sought out by various national and international agencies and governments to provide expert advice and participate in important research in numerous fields, resulting in innovative technology and water projects.

The Lee Kuan Yew Prize Award Ceremony and Banquet will be held at the Ritz Carlton Millenia Hotel on Monday, June 2, 2014, in conjunction with Singapore International Water Week, the World Cities Summit and Clean-Enviro Summit Singapore. The winner of the prize will deliver the 6th Singapore Water Lecture prior to the award ceremony, where both the Water Prize and the World Cities Prize will be presented to the respective laureates.

See also:

"Singapore water event gains industry support"

"World's Largest Recharge System Starts Production"

"Groundwater replenishment system receives international honor"

About the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize

Launched in 2008 to honor outstanding contributions by individuals or organizations towards solving the world's water problems by applying innovative technologies or implementing policies and programs which benefit humanity, the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize is the highlight of the Singapore International Water Week. Named after Singapore’s first Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize laureate receives S$300,000, a certificate and a gold medallion at the award ceremony held during SIWW. The Singapore Millennium Foundation (SMF), a philanthropic body supported by Temasek Holdings, is the sponsor of the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize. For more information, visit

About Singapore International Water Week

The Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) is the global platform to share and co-create innovative water solutions. Comprising the Water Leaders Summit, Water Convention, Water Expo and Business Forums, Industrial Water Solutions Forum, and TechXchange, it culminates in the presentation of the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize. SIWW 2014 will feature discussions on four themes, namely: Municipal Water, Industrial Water, Integrated City-Environment-Water, and Future of Water. The sixth Singapore International Water Week will be held from June 1-5, 2014, in conjunction with the World Cities Summit and CleanEnviro Summit Singapore. For more information, visit

About Orange County Water District

Orange County Water District (OCWD) manages the large groundwater basin that provides reliable, high quality groundwater to 19 municipal and special water districts, serving 2.4 million customers in northern and central Orange County in California. The basin has been valued at over $4 billion and must be sustainably managed for future generations. With years of sound planning and appropriate investment in the groundwater basin, OCWD has more than doubled its output of water that has been extracted from the basin and supplied to the municipal and special water districts. The basin, which is larger than the largest reservoir in Southern California, has helped Orange County weather multi-year droughts in Southern California. It also provides an emergency backup supply of water for citizens living outside OCWD in southern Orange County. For more information, visit


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