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OC Water District’s Mike Wehner named Recycled Water Advocate of the Year
With more than 40 years of experience and leadership in recycled water quality, Orange County Water District’s (OCWD) Assistant General Manager Michael (Mike) Wehner has been named Recycled Water Advocate of the Year by the WateReuse California Board and the 2018 California Annual Conference Awards Sub-Committee members. Wehner’s knowledge and expertise was key in the success of OCWD’s world-renowned recycling projects, the original Water Factory 21 and its successor the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS). GWRS is the world’s largest potable reuse project of its kind.
“We have been privileged to work alongside Mike for the past 27 years,” said OCWD President Denis Bilodeau. “He played a critical role in helping OCWD build its recycled water program, which is a global model for water reliability. We are grateful to Mike for all that he has done for OCWD and for the industry at large. He not only is a brilliant and respected professional, but he is a humble, kind and hardworking man. We applaud him for helping shape OCWD’s tradition of innovation,” he added.
Wehner has made significant contributions to the recycled water industry including his efforts in helping to establish the professional standard for scientific rigor and transparency that have instilled public confidence in potable reuse in Orange County and beyond. He has assisted other utilities, both domestically and internationally, with the implementation of potable reuse projects including the city of San Diego, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Monterey One Water (Monterey, CA), Thames Water in the United Kingdom, and the Singapore Public Utilities Board.
At OCWD, Wehner leads OCWD’s recycled water and groundwater management programs which includes overseeing applied research, scientific investigations, water quality monitoring, and regulatory compliance. He was responsible for leading statewide stakeholder advisory groups organized by the Division of Drinking Water and its predecessors to incrementally update Draft Groundwater Recharge Reuse Project regulations and its final adoption of regulations in 2014. As part of the on-going education of stakeholders regarding water reuse and the GWRS, Wehner has provided hundreds of interviews, tours and presentations at OCWD.
In his earlier career Wehner served as the Water Quality Program Chief at the Environmental Health Department of the County of Orange overseeing the regulation of non-potable reuse systems while ensuring sensible requirements and protecting local public health. His career has also included serving on numerous boards and committees supervising applied research for recycled water for the National Water Research Institute Board of Director; WateReuse Research Foundation’s Research Advisory Committee; and, the Water Research Foundation’s Tailored Collaboration Review Committee.
In receiving the Recycled Water Advocate of the Year Wehner has met the WateReuse California Board’s criteria of “… an individual, interagency coalition, or private group who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of water recycling through the active support and promotion of recycled water on a local, regional, or state level. The recipient will have demonstrated outstanding leadership and dedication to the promotion and use of recycled water beyond what would be professionally expected.”