The Groundwater Replenishment System final expansion project will help in producing an additional 30 million gallons of drinking water per day


Image: EPA supports water treatment plant in California. Photo: Courtesy of DengdaiFengQi/Pixabay.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Orange County Water District (OCWD) have announced the start of construction on a new Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) final expansion project in Orange County, California.

The plant will help in purifying treated wastewater from the Orange County Sanitation District to produce an additional 30 million gallons per day of drinking water. The drinking water will be stored in the Orange County Groundwater Basin.

It is funded in part by a $135m Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan.

The plant will act as an additional drought-proof drinking water supply source and will reduce the region’s need to import water, benefiting the environment through reduced discharges into the ocean and will increase the replenishment of local groundwater.

The total cost of the project is estimated to be $310m and with the support from EPA’s WIFIA programme, the Orange County Water District could save up to $16m compared to municipal bonds.

EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker said: “Not only will OCWD’s Ground Water Replenishment System provide Orange County residents and businesses with an additional local drinking water supply, it will also ensure the community is more resilient against periods of drought.

“Good water quality and wastewater management is vital to our health, communities, and economy. Through the WIFIA loan program, EPA is helping renew our nation’s aging water infrastructure.”

During the project’s construction phase, 700 new jobs will be created

The construction phase of the project, which is expected to be completed in 2023, could create up to 700 jobs.

Orange County Water District president Vicente Sarmiento said: “OCWD greatly appreciates the WIFIA funding that will support public water infrastructure in Orange County.

“The GWRS Final Expansion will produce enough water for 1 million people, while also recycling 100% of the reclaimable wastewater from the Sanitation District. It’s truly a win-win and we will continue to implement projects and programs that bring increased water reliability to the region.”

EPA announced the $135m loan to Orange County Water District last August.