Orange County Technology Wins Stockholm Award

Pioneering work to develop the world's largest water purification plant for groundwater recharge has earned the Orange County (Calif.) Water District and the Orange County Sanitation District, the 2008 Stockholm Industry Water Award.

The prestigious distinction will be presented on Aug. 21 during the 2008 World Water Week in Stockholm.

In arid regions like Southern California, sufficient water is not naturally guaranteed. Fortunately for the 2.3 million residents living in Orange County, the water and sanitation districts jointly developed the Groundwater Replenishment (GWR) system, a water purification system that will provide enough water to meet the needs of an additional 500 000 people without diminishing groundwater resources for current or future generations.

The system diverts highly treated sewer water that is discharged into the ocean and purifies it through a series of advanced techniques: microfiltration, reverse osmosis, ultraviolet disinfection, and hydrogen peroxide. The cleaned water is returned to the groundwater basin to increase both water supply and quality. The GWR system has established a blueprint for large-scale wastewater purification that is already being emulated in dry regions and nations, such as Singapore.

"Both agencies have demonstrated how communities can develop, implement, and achieve sustainable water reuse," said Lars Gunnarsson, chair of the award committee. "Their extensive involvement of private-sector companies such as CDM and Trojan and Siemens, long-term commitment to research and development, and utilization of cutting-edge technologies has established a model for water-stressed regions to replenish groundwater resources and improve water security."

The Industry Water Award, established in 2000, honors and encourages business sector contributions to sustainable development in the water sector.

Previous recipients of the Industry Award include:

2007 PUB Singapore

2006 The Sydney Water Corporation, Australia

2005 Procter & Gamble

2004 The Staple Fibre Division of Grasim Industries Ltd, India

2003 ZENON Environmental Inc, Canada

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