Mike Markus, General Manager, of Orange County Water District (OCWD), had some good news – “The groundwater basin is in pretty good shape at about half full. This is because recycled water from the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) is used to recharge the basin with highly treated wastewater and we capture stormwater.
Currently about 30% (100 million gallons per day) of OCWD production comes from the GWRS and an additional 30 million gallons per day will be added in December of this year with the new expansion of the plant located in Fountain Valley,” he said. OCWD is also working on increasing storage level of Prado Dam. Answering a question about the PFAS problem affecting 37 wells countywide and whether the new regulatory levels would require more to be shut down, Markus said that OCWD is adhering to the new Regulatory Level (RL).
“If wells exceed the RL level, they are taken out,” he said. OCWD provides treatment for any well that reaches 80% of the RL. The treatment plant in Fullerton Kimberly 1 opened over a year ago. More treatment plants are in construction.”
Resident Jane Reifer asked, “Could we find out if oil fracking chemicals are part of the problem, as has been stated on environmental group sites?”
Markus said he didn’t know about that, “PFAS appear to be from using the chemicals in manufacturing.” (See Physicians for Social Responsibility report link here) Another resident asked how the treatment plants are funded. “OCWD is paying for 100% of the plant design and construction and the city is contributing half of the operations and maintenance funding. We are suing manufacturers of PFAS, Dupont, and 3M.
The city is a co-defendant,” Markus said. A successful outcome would force the companies that developed and manufactured PFAS to pay for the clean-up, taking the burden off taxpayers and ratepayers. Committee member Tutor asked what type of treatment Fullerton uses to get rid of PFAS, what the difference is between treatments, and how many other cities are affected. Markus said OCWD will be providing treatment to 59 wells (20 of which are completed with the rest set to go online by end of 2023) in 11 water agencies.
Fullerton decided on the Granulated Activated Carbon (GAC) treatment. All the other cities chose the reverse ion model. Both are similar in cost according to Markus, but GAC also removes VOCs. Cities affected besides Fullerton and Anaheim include Seranno, Garden Grove, Orange, Santa Ana, Tustin, and Yorba Linda, which had to shut down all 10 of its wells.