OCWD President Sarmiento Testifies Before House Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife

By on April 6, 2019
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Orange County Water District (OCWD) President Vicente Sarmiento was in Washington D.C. earlier this week to testify before the House Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife regarding the provision of a safe and reliable water supply in the western United States. OCWD was invited to the subcommittee meeting to discuss the projects and programs the district has implemented to create a long-term reliable water supply for the 2.5 million people it serves as well as the initiates that have helped the region to better weather California’s inevitable droughts.

President Sarmiento spoke about OCWD’s most notable accomplishment – the world’s largest water purification project, the district’s Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS). The GWRS is a joint project of OCWD and the Orange County Sanitation District that has become a global model for water reliability.

The two agencies view wastewater as a resource and have been able to harness and purify it to better provide water reliability for people in north and central Orange County. The award-wining and history-making GWRS brought a 70-million-gallon-a-day (MGD) project online in 2008 and completed a 30-MGD expansion in 2015. The current GWRS produces 100 MGD. When the final expansion of the system is completed in 2023 it will provide 130 million gallons of water a day—enough water for one million people.

“The GWRS is a solution to water supply challenges, increasing water demands, local control, and long-term reliability,” said President Sarmiento. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to water recycling, but the GWRS is one of the most valuable assets in Orange County and it is a project that can be replicated locally, nationally and globally. The potential for water recycling is tremendous and when implemented, these projects will result in water security.”

As a part of the House Committee on Natural Resources, the House Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife is responsible for overseeing the agencies that manage America’s water resources, hydropower development, and federal transmission lines. The subcommittee is currently reviewing legislation that would reinvigorate the United States Bureau of Reclamation’s Title XVI water recycling program, authorizing $500 million dollars in competitive grants assistance and, for the first time, increasing the ceiling on project assistance to $30 million.

OCWD is a supporter of legislation currently pending before the Subcommittee, H.R. 1162. The district has requested that the subcommittee move to approve H.R. 1162 so that many more projects like the GWRS can be built.

“OCWD was truly honored to testify before the subcommittee and will continue to collaborate and share information in the interest of providing water reliability for all,” added President Sarmiento. “OCWD’s innovation, along with state and federal support, are the reasons why OCWD’s projects and programs are in place.”

To view the entire testimony of this matter before the House Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife, go to: https://youtu.be/0RpK6SsrxGs.