The Orange County Water District (OCWD) has officially stopped producing water from its world-renowned water purification plant, known as Water Factory 21.
Water Factory 21, named for its use of 21st century technology – mainly reverse osmosis – was the nation’s pioneer sewer water purification facility. The Water Factory was shut down in anticipation of construction of an improved, high-tech and larger water purification plant to come on line in 2007.
The Water Factory will be demolished later this year to make room for the new water purification plant.
Online since 1975, Water Factory 21 is a worldwide, water-industry landmark for its purification of sewer water that ultimately meets or is better than drinking water standards. For almost 30 years, Water Factory 21 has produced about 15 million gallons of purified water each day. Visitors, such as the Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, the Head of the Environmental Protection Agency from Catalonia Spain, the Secretary of Agriculture for Israel, and many other officials from around the globe have come to Orange County and OCWD to learn more about water purification, groundwater management and how to prevent subsidence and seawater intrusion.
Water Factory 21 was included as part of major water management and water purification textbooks since the mid-1970s. Hundreds upon hundreds of water managers, engineers, scientists and students from around the world have visited Water Factory 21 each year for the past many years.
A Groundwater Replenishment (GWR) System, a new high-tech water purification system, will produce water similar in quality to bottled water. GWR System water will be used to service a larger, expanded seawater barrier and to help drought-proof Orange County’s groundwater basin by providing better water reliability and more local control over part of our water future.
Using some of the same processes as bottled water companies, food manufacturers, and pharmaceutical companies, the new GWR System purification process will include microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet light with hydrogen peroxide, producing water of near-distilled water quality. The GWR System is a joint project between the Orange County Water District and the Orange County Sanitation District. The new GWR System will ultimately provide enough water – 72,000 acre-feet per year – to meet the annual needs of 140,000 families.