U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein has been invited to participate in a water reuse and wastewater recycling roundtable coming to Newport Beach that is to include America's ambassador to Qatar, a Singapore national water agency official and the chairman of the Orange County Water District board of directors.
The Big Ripple Effect on Water Reuse: the 2014 WateReuse California Conference is scheduled for Tuesday morning at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel at Newport Center.
It comes as the Orange County Water District prepares in June to receive from Singapore the prestigious Lee Kuan Yew Prize in recognition of Central Orange County's Groundwater Replenishment System, which captures waste water, treats it beyond government standards for drinking water and injects it into aquifers for future use.
Our system has been receiving awards and touring dignitaries for years, but it's old hat in Singapore, where treated wastewater makes up nearly 15 percent of that country's drinking supply.
California's drought has made water reuse a hotter topic than ever. Governor Jerry Brown's emergency drought legislation makes millions of dollars available for projects capable of recycling wastewater. Pilot projects are currently under way in San Diego and Los Angeles.
And now comes Tuesday's gathering of Southern California water officials and international experts to swap expertise. Among those scheduled to participate from 8:30-10 a.m. are: Susan Siadeh, U.S. ambassador to Qatar; David Smith, executive director of WateReuse California; Shawn Dewane, board chair of the Orange County Water District; Harry Seah, chief technology officer with Singapore's Public Utilities Board; and Paul Liu, a water recycling planner with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
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Besides treating water that's already here, Orange County is also importing water from elsewhere, even to some controversy in the parched Golden State. Bloomberg Businessweek just ran a piece on a company called Cadiz teaming with the Mission Viejo-based Santa Margarita Water District to tap an aquifer beneath 34,000 acres of the eastern Mojave Desert and pump 16.3 billion gallons of water a year toward the coast.
Some have called the plan ludicrous, including former Huntington Beach mayor Debbie Cook, who is quoted in the story saying, "To take that water from the desert and use it to fill Mission Viejo's lakes? It's absurd."
Of course, Debbie and I remember the days when some deemed Orange County's poop-to-tap proposal absurd, too.