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The State of California's Department of Health Services (DHS) has filed a preliminary report finding that the water purification processes used for the Groundwater Replenishment (GWR) System water purification project are acceptable for producing water for injection and percolation into drinking water aquifers. DHS findings are the result of a state mandated public hearing and a thorough investigation of the GWR System's water purification technology.
DHS' Division of Drinking Water and Environmental Management (DDWEM) provided its report to the California Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB), the group that oversees the protection of California's water systems. DDWEM is California's health department branch in charge of promoting and maintaining a physical, chemical and biological environment that contributes positively to health, prevents illness and assures protection of the public related to drinking water and the environment.
"DHS' report reflects the high quality of the water produced by the Groundwater Replenishment System," said Denis Bilodeau, president of the Orange County Water District board of directors. "These findings confirm that the technologies used to purify GWR System water will produce very safe, high quality water."
The GWR System will produce water that will meet and in many areas go beyond drinking water standards in quality. The System will be taking treated sewer water that is currently released into the ocean and purify it through microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet light with hydrogen peroxide advanced oxidation treatment.
The purified water will become part of a seawater barrier and also be pumped through a 13-mile pipeline to percolation ponds in Anaheim where it will seep into deep aquifers and blend with Orange County's other sources of groundwater, following the same natural filtering path rainwater takes through the ground.
After receiving input from several community members and leaders at a February public hearing, the Orange County Water District reaffirmed its intention to comply with all DHS recommendations to protect drinking water supplies, even if they are not incorporated into the permit issued by the Regional Water Quality Control Board.
"Although the recommendations made by DHS may not be required in the Regional Water Quality Control Board's permit, the water district is committed to going above and beyond requirements to ensure public safety," said Phil Anthony, chairman of the project's oversight committee.
The GWR System has been endorsed by a number of health and medical organizations and experts including Anaheim Memorial Medical Center, Hoag Hospital, Garden Grove Hospital and Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente Orange County, Los Alamitos Medical Center, Newport Bay Hospital, Orange County Korean American Health Information and Education Center, Orange County Pharmacists Association, Taiwanese Medical and Dental Association, West Anaheim Medical Center, Sandra Smoley, R.N., former Secretary of the California Health and Welfare Agency, John Blossom, M.D., Professor of Clinical Family and Community Medicine at UCSF in Fresno, Dr. Harvey Collins, former Chief, California Department of Health Services, Drinking Water Division and Jack Skinner, M.D.
The project will help prevent future predicted water shortages in Orange County. It will also help drought proof the groundwater basin and reduce its mineral content. The project will prevent ocean water from contaminating the large groundwater basin. Additionally, it will provide water during droughts, a recurring event in Southern California.