A Record Day for Recycled Water

May 31, 2018

Featured

California water districts earned a Guinness World Record for transforming wastewater to drinking water

In February, the Orange County Water District (OCWD; Fountain Valley, Calif.) and the Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD; Fountain Valley) hosted Winter Fest and trucked-in snow for attendees to enjoy as a way to celebrate setting a record for wastewater recycling. Photo courtesy of OCWD.

In February, the Orange County Water District (OCWD; Fountain Valley, Calif.) and the Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD; Fountain Valley) hosted Winter Fest and trucked-in snow for attendees to enjoy as a way to celebrate setting a record for wastewater recycling. Photo courtesy of OCWD.

At this year’s Winter Fest in Fountain Valley, Calif., visitors were invited to enjoy the rare treat of riding snow slides and snapping pictures inside a human-sized snow globe as well as exploring the setting for a new category of Guinness World Record®. Orange County Water District (OCWD; Fountain Valley) and the Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD; Fountain Valley) hosted the event in February.

From left, Philip Robertson, Guinness World Record® adjudicator, talks to Denis Bilodeau, OCWD president, on the day that OCWD and OCSD received a certificate commemorating the setting of the Guinness World Record for “most wastewater recycled to drinking water in 24 hours.” Photo courtesy of OCWD.

From left, Philip Robertson, Guinness World Record® adjudicator, talks to Denis Bilodeau, OCWD president, on the day that OCWD and OCSD received a certificate commemorating the setting of the Guinness World Record for “most wastewater recycled to drinking water in 24 hours.” Photo courtesy of OCWD.

The two districts jointly earned the title for “the most wastewater recycled to drinking water in 24 hours” after treating roughly 378,500 m3/d (100 mgd) of water using their groundwater replenishment system (GWRS). This is a new one for Guinness, since no previous title had been named for this record, said Mike Markus, OCWD general manager. The event also commemorated the 10th anniversary of the GWRS facility, which is a collaboration between the two districts.

Some staff members even brought their families to witness the momentous occasion and observe the countdown to setting the world record, which was shown on a giant digital display. “My granddaughter was there with me,” Markus said.

Bringing attention to potable water

In addition to celebrating the record, Winter Fest raised awareness of potable water projects while commemorating the 10th anniversary of the OCWD’s and OCSD’s groundwater replenishment system (GWRS) facility. Photo courtesy of OCWD.

In addition to celebrating the record, Winter Fest raised awareness of potable water projects while commemorating the 10th anniversary of the OCWD’s and OCSD’s groundwater replenishment system (GWRS) facility. Photo courtesy of OCWD.

But the Winter Fest and record-setting feat was held not just to commemorate the facility’s anniversary or to show off the capability of GWRS’ technologies; it was held to heighten awareness of potable water projects, Markus said.

GWRS is essential in Southern California, which only receives an average of 330 mm (13 in.) of rainfall annually. The facility provides the water supply for 75% of retail water agencies in that region, Markus said.

OCWD and OCSD earned the title by treating roughly 378,500 m3/d (100 mgd) of water using GWRS. Clean water produced is injected into the Orange County Groundwater Basin to increase drinking-water supplies. Photo courtesy of OCWD.

OCWD and OCSD earned their title by treating roughly 378,500 m3/d (100 mgd) of water using GWRS. Clean water produced is injected into the Orange County Groundwater Basin to increase drinking-water supplies. Photo courtesy of OCWD.

Winter Fest and the Guinness World Record entry was “a time to celebrate and learn about this proven technology that is so vital to sustaining our communities and our natural environment,” said Greg Sebourn, OCSD board chairman and GWRS steering committee vice-chair, in a joint OCWD and OCSD news release. “We have the technology now to produce safe drinking water that ensures long-term reliability of local supplies.”

 

Future improvements on the horizon

A group of OCWD and OCSD leaders and elected officials gather around Robertson in front of the GWRS to celebrate receiving the Guinness World Record certificate for most wastewater recycled in a day. Photo courtesy of OCWD.

A group of OCWD and OCSD leaders and elected officials gather around Robertson in front of the GWRS to celebrate receiving the Guinness World Record certificate for most wastewater recycled in a day. Photo courtesy of OCWD.

GWRS employs several technologies to generate highly purified recycled water. The treatment process involves microfiltration, reverse osmosis, and ultraviolet light to “produce near distilled quality water,” Markus said. The water is then injected into the Orange County Groundwater Basin, which is managed by OCWD, to increase local drinking water supplies and to prevent seawater intrusion, the news release says.

The districts now are working to expand GWRS’ capacity so that it can produce 492,000 m3/d (130 mgd) of purified recycled water — enough for 1 million people, the news release says. 

Winter Fest activities that catered to the younger visitors included snow slides and a human-sized, inflated snow globe. Photo courtesy of OCWD.

Winter Fest activities that catered to the younger visitors included snow slides and a human-sized, inflated snow globe. Photo courtesy of OCWD.

“For more than a century, California has relied on rivers like the Colorado and Sacramento for our water. Today, we demonstrated we have new rivers to utilize,” said Bill Patzert, climate scientist who emceed the Winter Fest celebration program. “It makes perfect sense to use the technology we have today to use the water we have right in our backyard and recycle it for drinking water.”

For more information and additional images, see the SplashShot section of the July issue of Water Environment & Technology.

LaShell Stratton-Childers, WEF Highlights

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