Orange County Wins Groundwater Guardian Award

Jan. 24, 2003

The Orange County Water District (OCWD) Groundwater Guardian Team has earned the 2002 Groundwater Guardian Community designation -- for the sixth year in a row.

This designation is awarded to entities who develop and implement successful projects that benefit groundwater. OCWD's Groundwater Guardian Team was presented its award by The Groundwater Foundation during the Foundation's Annual Conference held in Eugene, Ore.

Groundwater Guardian designation is earned by a community Team when progress is made toward the implementation of groundwater-related activities and accomplishment of goals. Groundwater protection is an ongoing process, and communities re-enter for designation each year as they continue to build on previous successes.

"Earning the designation for six years in a row is a direct result of the OCWD Groundwater Guardian Team's hard work," stated Phil Anthony, OCWD board member. "Activities such as the annual Children's Water Education Festival held each spring, mirror the goals of the Groundwater Foundation." The Orange County Festival is the largest in the nation.

The OCWD Groundwater Guardian Team won the designation for a number of activities it planned and conducted in support of protecting Orange County's groundwater basin, including:

• A two-day Children's Water Education Festival, which featured hands-on activities designed to teach third- and fourth-grade students about the interdependence of water, soil, plants, trees, animals and humans. In 2002, the event drew more than 6,000 students from throughout Orange County.

• Involvement in the development of a watershed education exhibit at Santiago Oaks Regional Park in Orange, Calif. The Team is working with several other local agencies to convert the existing nature center into a model interactive watershed ecosystem education center.

• Development of a year-long interactive presentation at the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana, Calif., educating visitors about water and oil and why the two don't "mix." Used motor oil can be recycled and should be disposed of correctly to avoid water contamination.

• Establishing an MTBE (Methyl-tertiary-butyl-ether) committee to initiate public outreach about the gasoline additive that is contaminating groundwater supplies in Southern California.

• Providing information and education on groundwater protection and water conservation at community events throughout Orange County.

The Groundwater Guardian program encourages communities to begin groundwater awareness and protection activities, supports the communities in their efforts, then recognizes their achievements. Communities can represent a number of diverse settings including rural areas, large incorporated cities, Indian reservations and water basins in the United States and Canada. These teams then develop Result Oriented Activities to address the community's groundwater protection concerns.

The OCWD Groundwater Guardian Team was formed in 1997 under the direction of Phil Anthony, an OCWD Board member since 1981. The team has approximately 20 members representing business, education, local citizens, water utilities and other local agencies.

Orange County Water District is a state agency created by the California State Legislature in 1933 to maintain and manage the groundwater basin under northern and central Orange County. OCWD's groundwater basin supplies 75 percent of the water needs in the county.

Source: Business Wire