OC and Serrano Water Districts recognized for PFAS water treatment plant

The American Society of Civil Engineers-Orange County (ASCE-OC) has recognized Orange County Water District (OCWD) and Serrano Water District (SWD) for their work on the Serrano Water District PFAS Treatment Plant.

The agencies’ efforts to remove per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from groundwater supplies was featured as an outstanding project during a ASCE-OC virtual program last month.

“Behind all great projects are great people,” said OCWD President Stephen R. Sheldon. “I would like to recognize Director of Engineering Chris Olsen, Senior Engineer Ben Smith and the many dedicated staff who made this critical water quality project possible. The District remains steadfast in our mission to protect and manage the Orange County Groundwater Basin because of the daily efforts of our employees. Although PFAS contamination was caused by chemical manufacturers, and not by water agencies, we are doing an outstanding job of swiftly responding to this issue and implementing effective solutions.”

After the State lowered health advisory levels for two legacy PFAS chemicals, Orange County water agencies had to take dozens of wells out of service and rely on more expensive imported water for their primary drinking water supply.

In order to fully utilize local supply again, OCWD will design and construct 10 PFAS treatment plants, including SWD’s, with the goal of getting plants online within two years.

“Our agency proactively took two impacted wells out of service in order to continue providing high quality, reliable water,” said Serrano Water District General Manager Jerry Vilander. “Through a collaborative process with OCWD and our community members, the PFAS treatment plant will support our priority to get drinking water wells back in operation later this year to continue our legacy of providing a sustainable water supply to the residents and businesses we serve.”

To protect ratepayers and ensure PFAS costs are borne by the companies that developed and manufactured PFAS, OCWD and 10 of Orange County’s public water agencies have filed a lawsuit.

To learn more about how OCWD is addressing PFAS in Orange County, please visit the District’s website.

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