Orange County Water District (OCWD) was recently designated a Clean Water Partner for the 21st Century by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
OCWD has implemented many environmental projects to improve the local (Santa Ana River) watershed, including the nation's largest water reclamation project -- the Groundwater Replenishment System; the largest children's water education festival in the United States; Southern California's largest constructed wetlands project behind Prado Dam in Corona, Calif.; and a major recovery of an endangered songbird species -- the least Bell's vireo.
"The Year of Clean Water provides us with a tremendous opportunity to recognize the hard work, sacrifice and leadership of local agencies from across the country," said EPA administrator Christine Whitman. "These award-winners have set a strong example for future clean water efforts and we look forward to working with our partners toward our shared goals to reduce water pollution and ensure cleaner, purer water for all Americans."
OCWD was presented a Clean Water Partner certificate by Assistant EPA Administrator Tracy Meehan in a ceremony held at EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C., on April 1.
"This recognition demonstrates one more way OCWD continues to lead the nation in water quality protection and improvement, ensuring a high quality of water will be available for Orange County now and in the future," said Denis Bilodeau, OCWD board president.
Nearly 200 applications were received by the EPA from throughout the United States and 79 were chosen as Clean Water Partners.
The Clean Water Partners of the 21st Century program is intended to recognize extraordinary efforts, beyond the requirement of the Clean Water Act, that local governments are making now and are willing to undertake in the future, both within their own organizations and as part of a larger effort to help mobilize other local resources in order to protect and improve the overall health of waterbodies in a specific watershed.
The Orange County Water District is a special water agency created by the California Legislature in 1933 to maintain and manage the huge groundwater basin under northern Orange County.
The groundwater basin managed by OCWD supplies 75 percent of the water needs to more than 2 million residents in the cities of Anaheim, Buena Park, Cypress, Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Irvine, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Newport Beach, Orange, Placentia, Santa Ana, Seal Beach, Stanton, Tustin, Villa Park, Westminster and Yorba Linda.