News | November 2, 2011

OCWD Awarded $1,000,000 Grant Towards Initial Expansion Of The Groundwater Replenishment System

As the regional agency administrator for Proposition 84 Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) Program for the Santa Ana River Watershed, the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority (SAWPA) recently announced millions of dollars in grants awarded by the California Department of Water Resources. The Orange County Water District (OCWD) received a $1M water sustainability grant for its 30 million gallon per day (MGD) Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) Initial Expansion. The total amount of regional funding under this round was $12.667M.

The GWRS Initial Expansion is estimated to cost $142.7M and be completed by September 2014. It will create an additional 31,000 acre-feet per year (AFY) of new water supplies to serve north and central Orange County bringing the total production of the GWRS to 103,000 AFY, enough water for 850,000 people.

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 enhances existing water supplies by providing a reliable, high-quality source of water to recharge Orange County's groundwater basin (the Basin) and protect the Basin from further degradation due to seawater intrusion. It has also provided peak wastewater disposal flow relief and indefinitely postponed the need for OCSD to construct a new ocean outfall by recycling wastewater flows that would otherwise be discharged to the Pacific Ocean.

The Basin, which is larger than the largest reservoir in Southern California, has helped Orange County weather multi-year droughts in Southern California by stabilizing local water supplies and costs to rate payers. 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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SOURCE: The Orange County Water District