California Drought Inspires Water Recycling Innovations by Orange County Water District
OCWD President Shawn Dewane interviewed by fresh water advocate and radio host Sharon Kleyne on groundwater reclamation, desalination and other wastewater recycling innovations
Hear the Sharon Kleyne Hour Power of Water on World Talk Radio, Voice America, Green Talk Network and Apple iTunesp
During California's record breaking drought, a rare bright spot is the water recycling innovations initiated by the Southern California's Orange Country Water District. According to OCWD President Shawn Dewane, speaking on the Sharon Kleyne Hour™ Power of Water® radio show, the district is taking millions of gallons of used sewage that would have been dumped into the ocean and - through a variety of methods - is converting it to irrigation or drinking water. They are also involved in desalination and are finding innovative ways to reduce the cost to consumers. .
Kleyne interviewed Dewane on the Sharon Kleyne Hour™ Power of Water® radio broadcast of December 1, 2014 (Live show or podcast: http://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2207/the-sharon-kleyne-hour).
Sean Dewane is President of the Orange County Water District and its District Seven representative. Dewane organizes numerous educational programs, does much public speaking and works closely with other cutting-edge municipal water programs such as Singapore. Orange County is in Southern California, between Los Angeles and San Diego Counties.
Sharon Kleyne Hour™ Power of Water® radio show, hosted by fresh water advocate Sharon Kleyne, is heard weekly on VoiceAmerica and Apple iTunes. The show is sponsored by Bio-Logic Aqua Research, a global research and technology center founded by Kleyne and specializing in fresh water, the atmosphere and dehydration. Nature's Tears® EyeMist® is the Research Center's signature Hand Held Portable Personal Misting Humidifier™ for dry eyes.
Dewane primarily discussed the District's groundwater replenishment program. Through a process called "reverse osmosis," the OCWD treatment facility removes all impurities from used sewage wastewater - including the water's mineral content. This yields basically distilled water not suitable for drinking or irrigation.
The treated water is then introduced back into the ground water aquifer, according to Dewane, where the mineral content is naturally replaced. The water can then be fully processed to become drinking water or partially processed to become irrigation water.
Prior to ground water replenishment, used sewage was simply dumped into the ocean and replaced by imported water or by ground water mining. Because of the ongoing drought, lowering water tables, and the county's burgeoning urban and agricultural fresh water needs, imported water and ground water mining are becoming less and less feasible.
Groundwater replenishment has numerous benefits. Fresh water is produced from a local source rather than imported and underground fresh water aquifers are recharged. This recharging contributes to natural stream flows, soil health, and, according to Kleyne, to atmospheric water vapor and humidity, which feeds the hydrologic cycle.
The cost of reverse osmosis treatment, according to Dewane, has dropped significantly due to recent technological advances. Experimentation with graphene, a one-atom thick carbon sheet and the strongest substance ever produced, first produced in 2003, could further reduce filtration costs.
The Orange County Water District, Kleyne notes, is also involved with desalination, which is the conversion of salt water to fresh drinking water. The district's proposed Huntington Beach desalination plant, to be built and run by a private contractor, is in the process of obtaining approval.* The two other major US desalination plants, according to Kleyne, are in Tampa, Florida, and El Paso, Texas. The El Paso facility treats brackish ground water rather than ocean water .
*Carpio, AC, "Water official has desalination project conflict of interest complaint alleges," Huntington Beach Independent, December 5, 2010
San Diego County, adjacent to Orange County, recently approved a program of wastewater recycling for resale as drinking water. They employ an indirect process where used water is partially purified, reintroduced into reservoirs or holding areas, and processed with other water as drinking water.† San Diego had been deemed unsuitable for ground water replenishment.
† "Global fresh water advocate supports San Diego wastewater recycling plan, PRWeb, November 26, 2014