First of four PFAS treatment facilities in Garden Grove begins operation

The Orange County Water District (OCWD) and the City of Garden Grove, California, in May began operating one of four treatment plants being constructed in Garden Grove to remove per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from local well water.

PFAS are a group of thousands of manmade, heat-resistant chemicals that are prevalent in the environment and are commonly used in consumer products to repel water, grease and oil. Due to their prolonged use, PFAS are being detected in water sources throughout the United States, including the Orange County Groundwater Basin, which supplies 77 percent of the water supply to 2.5 million people in north and central Orange County. Despite playing no role in releasing PFAS into the environment, water providers must find ways to remove it from their local water supplies.

The Garden Grove facility, located at West Haven Reservoir, is among 36 PFAS treatment facilities being designed and constructed in Orange County over the next two years; Garden Grove’s West Haven Well 21 is one of the first in the county to be completed and go online. OCWD is funding 100 percent of design and construction costs and 50 percent of operation and maintenance costs for its water suppliers like Garden Grove.

“OCWD and our dedicated staff work tirelessly to address PFAS in the Orange County Groundwater Basin,” said OCWD President Steve Sheldon. “Working together with our retail providers to ensure that Orange County’s water supply remains among the highest quality in the nation is our top priority. I commend our staff on quickly and successfully completing this facility.”

Garden Grove, one of 19 water providers that pump water from the groundwater basin, had five of its groundwater wells impacted by perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), prompting it to temporarily shut down those wells and transition to purchasing imported water from the Colorado River and Northern California. These wells are among dozens of wells throughout Orange County that were removed from service in 2020 after the state of California lowered the Response Level advisories of PFOA and PFOS; two legacy PFAS compounds no longer produced in the United States.

Using an Ion Exchange (IX) treatment system made of highly porous resin that acts like powerful magnets that adsorb and hold onto contaminants, the facility can treat up to five million gallons of water per day. During treatment, contaminants such as PFAS are removed from the water before it goes into the distribution system.

“The City’s top priority is ensuring that the water we serve is safe, reliable, and meets all state and federal drinking health standards,” said Garden Grove Mayor Steve Jones. “We are very proud to have collaborated with OCWD to design and construct this facility that is so important to our residents.”

OCWD and 10 Orange County public water agencies filed a lawsuit against the manufacturers of PFAS, seeking to protect ratepayers and ensure that the associated costs, including but not limited to treatment and replacement water, are borne by the companies that developed and manufactured PFAS.

To learn more about your water quality and view a video about Garden Grove’s approach to PFAS, visit  www.ggcity.org/pw/water-quality. To learn more about OCWD’s comprehensive and robust PFAS response, please visit www.ocwd.com/what-we-do/water-quality/pfas.

For more information about OCWD, please visit www.ocwd.com, like @OCWaterDistrict on Facebook, follow @OCWDWaterNews on Twitter, follow @OCWD on Instagram, and follow Orange County Water District on LinkedIn.

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