Connecting Waterpeople

OCWD awarded $5 million toward expansion of world’s largest water reuse facility

  • OCWD awarded $5 million toward expansion of world’s largest water reuse facility

About the entity

Orange County Water District
OCWD takes the limited water supply found in nature and supplements it to provide water for more than 2.5 million people in Orange County, California.


The Orange County Water District (OCWD) was awarded $5 million in grants from the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) Division of Financial Assistance for use toward the construction of the District’s Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) Final Expansion project. OCWD was selected based upon the increased water supply, superior water quality and multiple benefits the GWRS brings to the region.

“These grants from the State Water Resources Control Board further solidify OCWD’s reputation as a leader in water reuse,” said OCWD President Vicente Sarmiento. “Since coming online, the GWRS has produced more than 320 billion gallons of safe, reliable water at a cost lower than imported supplies.”

Two grants make up the $5 million in funding from the SWRCB: $3,838,902 in grant funding from Proposition 13 and $1,161,098 in grant funding from Proposition 1’s Water Recycling Program. Half the grant funds are for the construction of the Advanced Water Purification Facility in Fountain Valley and the other half for the construction of two flow equalization tanks and a new pump station at the Orange County Sanitation District’s (OCSD) Plant No. 2 in Huntington Beach, all of which are part of the GWRS Final Expansion.

The two SWRCB grants account for two of four grants received for the project. Additional grant funding includes $3.6 million from the California Department of Water Resources Integrated Regional Water Management grant program and $1.1 million from the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation Title XVI Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation program. In addition, the District was awarded $186 million through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund Loan program. Remaining costs will be paid through a loan from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program. Total construction costs are $310 million.

The GWRS is a joint project between OCWD and OCSD and is the world’s largest water reuse project of its kind. The project takes highly-treated wastewater and purifies it using a three-step process of microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet light with hydrogen peroxide. The result is water that meets or exceeds all state and federal drinking water standards. This ultra-pure water is then recharged into the aquifer to become part of the region’s drinking water supply.

The GWRS came online in 2008, producing 70 million gallons per day (MGD) of near-distilled quality water. It underwent an expansion in 2015, increasing production to 100 MGD. Its second and final expansion began in 2019 and will increase capacity to 130 MGD; enough water to meet the daily needs of 1 million people. Construction of the GWRS Final Expansion will be complete in 2023.

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