Above; The 13-mile groundwater replenishment system pipeline is now under construction between Fountain Valley and Anaheim, Calif. Photos: Orange County Water District Below: OCSD and OCWD staff reviewing plans for the groundwater replenishment system backed up by a state-of-the-art ultraviolet light unit. Shown are Virginia Grebbien (left), OCWD general manager; Mike Markus, GWR system program manager; and Blake Anderson, OCSD general manager.
This Phase One GWR system microfiltration unit is on the OCWD campus in Fountain Valley, Calif. Microfiltration is the first step in the Phase One purification process that is now producing 5 mgd for the seawater intrusion barrier.
A project of this significance is too large for two county agencies (OCWD and OCSD) to tackle on their own, regardless of the history of cooperation. Accordingly, the GWR system owes much of its success to the partnership with other local, state, and federal agencies whose leaders recognized the need and importance of the project.
For example, the county provided right-of-way for construction of most of the 13-mile pipeline, in exchange for an easement in some of the OCWD's recharge basins. And the California Department of Health Services has tentatively certified the ultraviolet light system as an appropriate technology for disinfection, providing an additional barrier to unwanted contaminants.
Regional water boards and agencies also helped keep the GWR system on track. The California Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB), Santa Ana Region, approved OCWD's permit for the production of purified water at the future GWR system purification facility and use of the water for percolation into the ground-water basin. The RWQCB also approved injecting water from the Phase One facility into the seawater barrier. The Phase One facility, a smaller version of the full-scale project, is providing 5 mgd of purified water for the seawater barrier while work on the larger facility is underway.
In addition, early in 2004 the large water importing agency for all of Southern California, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and its member agency, Municipal Water District of Orange County, awarded the GWR system approximately $3.8 million per year in incentives, which will help reduce the cost of producing water in 2007, when operation begins. The financial incentives lower the cost of GWR system water to $476 per acre-foot, a competitive cost for water in this arid region that is so dependent on imported sources.
Other funding for the GWR system comes from $92.5 million in federal and state grants. Grants include a $30 million contribution from the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) from Proposition 13 funds, $37 million of additional Proposition 13 funds that are administered through the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority, and $20 million from the federal government. The GWR system grant represented the single largest DWR award from Groundwater Storage Program funds available statewide. The California Energy Commission provided another $700,000 in grant funding because the GWR System could produce new, high-quality water, using only half the energy required to bring water into Orange County from Northern California.
Finally, Orange County's Congressional Delegation is working to increase the federal funding for the project from $20 million to $80 million. The depth and breadth of support from various agencies and individuals clearly has benefited the project, but more importantly, it has reduced the cost of the project to ratepayers.
The GWR system is now in its final construction phase and should be completed in 2007.
— Markus is assistant general manager and GWR system program manager for the OCWD; Sevenandt is an engineer with the OCSD.