News | September 21, 2022

Orange County Water District Wins Groundwater Resources Association's Kevin J. Neese Award For PFAS Treatment Program

The Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) was named the 2022 winner of the Groundwater Resources Association's (GRA) Kevin J. Neese award. The award, given to the District for its robust PFAS treatment program, recognizes a significant accomplishment by a person, persons, or entity that fosters the understanding, development, protection, and management of groundwater.

“Our work to protect local water supplies and remove PFAS detected in the Orange County Groundwater Basin remains a top priority,” said OCWD President Steve Sheldon. “Thank you to the Groundwater Resources Association for recognizing our proactive and swift efforts to address PFAS in Orange County.”

OCWD manages the Orange County Groundwater Basin underlying north and central Orange County, which provides 77% of the drinking water supply for 19 cities and retail water districts, serving 2.5 million people. Despite playing no role in releasing PFAS into the environment, cities and water agencies must find ways to remove it from groundwater supplies, and OCWD is committed to leading this effort while striving to meet all state and federal drinking water standards.

OCWD was recognized for its comprehensive efforts to remove PFAS from local groundwater including launching the nation’s largest pilot treatment project in December 2019 to constructing PFAS treatment facilities to restore the impacted drinking water supply. Today, five treatment plants for the cities of Fullerton and Garden Grove and the Serrano and Yorba Linda water districts are operational, including the nation’s largest ion exchange PFAS treatment plant at the Yorba Linda Water District headquarters. Over the next two years, 31 additional treatment facilities will be built and brought online.

The award was presented to OCWD at the GRA’s Western Groundwater Congress during the Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon on September 20 in Sacramento, California. A video shown during the luncheon is available here.

“The Orange County Water District has shown itself to be a leader in groundwater management and quality. Its PFAS treatment program exemplifies the standards and ideals of the Kevin J. Neese award and we could not think of an organization or project more deserving of this year’s honor,” said GRA President R.T. Van Valer.

OCWD previously won the GRA Kevin J. Neese award in 2008 for its world-renowned Groundwater Replenishment System. Past Kevin J. Neese award winners include former Governor Jerry Brown, the California Department of Water Resources and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Land Subsidence Monitoring Team.

About Orange County Water District
The Orange County Water District is committed to enhancing Orange County’s groundwater quality and reliability in an environmentally friendly and economical manner. The following cities rely on the groundwater basin, managed by OCWD, to provide 77% of their water demands: 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. For more information, visit

Source: The Orange County Water District