water bottle drinking glass By Mariamne Beuscher, communications intern

The Orange County Water District is now the world’s largest producer of purified wastewater. The district’s Groundwater Replenishment System, which began in 2008 in partnership with the Orange County Sanitation District, uses the combined processes of microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet light to purify treated wastewater. The final product is pumped into local groundwater sources and becomes part of the municipal drinking water supply. Currently, about 100 million gallons of purified wastewater are manufactured each day.

Roughly $600 million was invested into the district’s Groundwater Replenishment System, which will serve as the model for future projects. In an interview with Water Deeply, Denis Bilodeau – Orange County Water District President – noted that two more purification facilities are to be completed in San Diego and Los Angeles.

There are mixed reactions from the public when it comes to drinking purified wastewater. Some people support the project, while others are not so keen on the idea of drinking treated sewage water. Bilodeau points out in his interview that constant and open communication with the public is the key to success and the purification process is significantly less expensive than ocean desalination or importing water from the Sacramento Bay-Delta and the Colorado River.

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