The Groundwater Replenishment (GWR) System, a new water project for Orange County, California, received the “2003 Award of Excellence” from the Consulting Engineers and Land Surveyors of California, Orange County chapter. The award recognizes exceptional projects, as well as the organizations and individuals who have helped bring them to fruition.

This is the third award the project has received, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 2002 Environmental Achieve-ment Award and the “1998 Planned Project of the Year” presented by the WateReuse Association of California. The Groundwater Replenishment System is being jointly planned and built by the Orange County Water District and the Orange County Sanitation District.

The GWR System will produce water similar in quality to bottled water, by taking highly treated sewer water that is currently released into the ocean, and purifying 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 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 ground water, following the same natural filtering path rainwater takes through the ground.

“We are extremely pleased to have the GWR System recognized by our peers,” says Virginia Grebbien, general manager for the Orange County Water District. Once completed in 2007, the GWR System will produce 72,000 acre-feet (or 23.4 billion gallons) of purified water annually – enough water to serve 140,000 Orange County families. The project will help meet future predicted water shortages in Orange County. It also will help reduce the mineral content of Orange County’s ground water and prevent ocean water from contaminating the large ground water basin. Additionally, it will provide water during droughts, a reccurring event in Southern California.