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.
Keeping residents informed

One significant challenge on the GWR project is managing close to $350 million in construction contracts distributed among up to six different general contractors working in six cities—including on the OCWD and OCSD campus, which is bordered on three sides by businesses and residents. The proximity to residential areas has placed a premium on keeping the public informed—that's why the construction team partnered with the communications team to implement a proactive, multilingual construction outreach program.

Two community liaisons go door-to-door to meet and build personal relationships with residents in neighborhoods impacted by construction of the GWR system. The liaisons also host neighborhood gatherings to discuss the need for the project and to update residents and business people on the construction. Community liaisons are available around the clock via construction hotlines to answer residents' questions.

Monthly project tours are conducted so residents can see progress firsthand. Many residents have developed a sense of pride that a world-class water purification project is being built right in their neighborhood. One resident even suggested changing Fountain Valley's motto from “A nice place to live” to “Setting world-class standards for water.”

These efforts have built goodwill and acceptance of the inconveniences associated with a major construction project. The outreach program has been held up as the model for water reuse outreach throughout the water industry. It recently received the top honor of 2004 Public Education “Program of the Year” from the WateReuse Association.

Active outreach including cable television advertising, direct mail, and more than 120 community presentations per year over the past seven years has resulted in more than 400 letters of support. The GWR system would not have been possible without the support of Orange County's citizens and of hundreds of community, environmental, business, medical, and educational organizations.