So it Used to Be Water: #GetOverIt!

Tue, 10/2: 1:00 PM  - 3:30 PM 
IKE Sessions 
New Orleans Convention Center 
Room: Room 339 
The Orange County Water District (OCWD) and the Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) developed the robust #GetOverIt! campaign to help Californians get over the “yuck” factor, the first hurdle in getting water reuse projects off the ground, and their Interactive Knowledge Exchange (IKE) video will help others understand and utilize the key components of a viable water reuse outreach program.

OCWD and OCSD co-created the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS)--the world’s largest advanced water purification project of its kind, which came online in 2008. A few years before that, similar projects (San Diego and Los Angeles) weren’t as lucky, as they were defeated because they couldn’t overcome the branding of potable water reuse as “toilet-to-tap.” Water reuse projects still face the same dilemma.

The main reason the GWRS gained support was due to planned, extensive outreach. Once the GWRS facility was built, outreach continued and onsite presentations with tours were instituted to protect the agencies’ initial $481 million investment. The tours climax with the ability to taste GWRS product water, which strongly reinforces acceptance of water reuse.

The goal of continued outreach and education programs is to draw individuals’ and families’ attention to state and local water needs and crises, teach them useful and simple ways to reduce water consumption, respect this natural resource, and have them make life-long commitments to conserving water. Most importantly, these programs also provide knowledge about alternatives to supplement Mother Nature by way of water reuse and they provide palatable and useful information to spur the acceptance of water reuse projects.

Another goal is to share OCWD and OCSD’s water reuse technology with other cities, states and nations in a humanitarian effort and, in a spirit of collaboration, to advance current knowledge for the betterment of all.

In 2016, OCWD, OCSD and WateReuse California led efforts to pass AB 2022, which now allows the bottling of advanced purified water for educational purposes. Subsequently, OCWD and OCSD were the first to bottle such water in the Western Hemisphere and began a year-long “bottled water tour” throughout California to educate the general public about the safety, quality and taste of reused water in efforts to help similar reused projects gain community support and ultimately help California be water-secure during droughts.

Being able to have staff go out to the California masses with an explanation of the benefits and water in hand has changed mind sets.

If invited to submit an IKE video, the agencies would emphasize the campaign’s impact--that seeing and tasting the water effectively helps to garner support; very briefly cover the process of advanced purification; the main challenge and successes of citizens getting over the “yuck” factor; the #GetOverIt! campaign launch on Hollywood Boulevard; influencer and media coverage; and some existing footage

IKE Abstract Speaker

Eleanor Torres, Orange County Water District  - Contact Me

IKE Co-author(s)

Gina Ayala, Orange County Water District
Tyler Crossno, Orange County Water District
Rebecca Long, Orange County Sanitation District
Diane Pinnick, Orange County Water District
Jennifer Cabral, Orange County Sanitation District