Expansion Planned for Groundwater Replenishment Program

The Orange County Water District (OCWD) Board of Directors has voted to move forward with construction of the 30 mgd Initial Expansion of the district's Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS).

May 1st, 2011

The Orange County Water District (OCWD) Board of Directors has voted to move forward with construction of the 30 mgd Initial Expansion of the district’s Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS).

The overall budget is set at $156.2 million and the project will create an additional 31,000 acre-feet per year (AFY) of new water supplies to serve north and central Orange County. This would bring the total production of the GWRS to 103,000 AFY, enough water for 850,000 people. Construction is estimated to be completed in September 2014.

“The GWRS Initial Expansion is an effective response to the federal mandate to decrease California’s dependency on imported waters from the Colorado River by creating additional new water supplies,” said Claudia Alvarez, President of OCWD. “The GWRS Initial Expansion provides an effective and fiscally sound response to issues presented by the contentious and controversial method of moving water from Northern California to Southern California through the fragile Bay-Delta ecosystem.”

The GWRS, a joint project of the OCWD and Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD), takes highly treated wastewater and purifies it through a three-step process that includes microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet light with hydrogen peroxide, resulting in near-distilled quality water. It is the world’s largest advanced water purification facility of its kind, currently producing up to 70 million gallons of new water every day.

The GWRS currently consists of three major components: (1) the 70 mgd Advanced Water Purification Facility (AWPF) and pumping stations located in Fountain Valley; (2) a 14-mile pipeline adjacent to the Santa Ana River connecting the treatment facilities to existing recharge basins in the cities of Anaheim and Orange; and (3) the expansion of an existing seawater intrusion barrier in the cities of Fountain Valley and Huntington Beach.

The GWRS Expansion will entail construction of 30 mgd additional treatment facilities at the AWPF site in Fountain Valley. Additional microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet light treatment equipment will be purchased and installed. In addition, pumps, electrical equipment and additional post treatment systems are required. A significant portion of the infrastructure has already been constructed to accommodate the expansion including underground piping, pump stations and electrical systems.

In addition to creating a reliable local source of water, the project reduces the amount of wastewater discharged to the Pacific Ocean, preserves the country’s vital coast and provides all these benefits with fewer greenhouse gas emissions than importing water.

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