Groundwater replenishment system receives drought proofing award

The Groundwater Replenishment (GWR) System, a new water project for Orange County, received the "2003 Drought Proofing Award" from the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority (SAWPA).

Jun 17th, 2003

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., June 17, 2003 -- The Groundwater Replenishment (GWR) System, a new water project for Orange County, received the "2003 Drought Proofing Award" from the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority (SAWPA).

Presented at the inaugural State of the Santa Ana Watershed Conference, the GWR System was honored for engaging in the most significant activity over the past year to assist in "drought proofing" the Santa Ana Watershed.

The Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority is composed of five member water agencies totaling 2,650 square miles in Southern California: Eastern Municipal Water District, Inland Empire Utilities Agency, Orange County Water District, San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District and Western Municipal Water District. SAWPA's mission is to plan and build facilities to protect the water quality of the Santa Ana River Watershed.

"The Groundwater Replenishment System is one of the major projects in the Santa Ana Integrated Watershed Program (IWP) that will assist in drought proofing the region," commented Joe Grindstaff, general manager of SAWPA.

"This is a 10 year, $3 billion program that will drought proof the watershed by creating over 1 million acres of new water supply and over 10,000 acres of new wetlands and open space. The GWR System is the largest single source of new water supply in the IWP and we felt it was appropriate that this project receive the first annual Santa Ana Watershed Drought Proofing Award," said Grindstaff.

The GWR System is a joint project of the Orange County Water District and Orange County Sanitation District. The project will produce water similar in quality to bottled water, by taking highly treated sewer water that is currently released into the ocean, and purifying it through microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet light with hydrogen peroxide advanced oxidation treatment.

The purified water will become part of a seawater barrier and be pumped through a 13-mile pipeline to percolation ponds in Anaheim where it will seep into deep aquifers and blend with Orange County's other sources of groundwater, following the same natural filtering path rainwater takes through the ground.

"One of the exciting aspects of the GWR System is regardless of rainfall or drought, purified water will be available. This is truly a new water supply for Orange County," said Denis Bilodeau, president of the Orange County Water District.

Once completed in 2007, the GWR System will produce 72,000 acre-feet (or 23.4 billion gallons) of purified water annually -- enough water to serve 140,000 Orange County families.

"The GWR System is a model for other wastewater and water agencies to follow," said Blake Anderson, general manager of the Orange County Sanitation District.

The project will help meet future predicted water shortages in Orange County. It will also help reduce the mineral content of Orange County's groundwater and prevent ocean water from contaminating the large groundwater basin. Additionally, it will provide water during droughts, a reoccurring event in Southern California.

More information on the Groundwater Replenishment System is available at www.gwrsystem.com.

The Orange County Water District (OCWD) manages and protects the large groundwater basin underlying north and central Orange County. OCWD is a special district, separate from the County of Orange or any city government. It was created by the California Legislature in 1933 to oversee Orange County's groundwater basin.

The groundwater basin supplies more than half of the water needs for 2.3 million residents in the cities of Anaheim, Buena Park, Cypress, Costa Mesa, 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. To learn more about water log on to www.ocwd.com.

The Orange County Sanitation District is responsible for safely collecting, treating, and disposing wastewater. It is a special district, separate from the County of Orange or any city government, established under the State Health and Safety Code, to provide sewerage service to a specific geographic area.

The Orange County Sanitation District is governed by a 25-member board of directors comprised of representatives of each local sewering agency or cities within its 470-square-mile service area. For more information, visit the Web site at www.ocsd.com.

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