Orange County Water District Awarded Grant to Improve Water Quality

The Orange County Water District (OCWD), in a partnership with the University of Maryland and CosmosID, Inc., has received a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant that will aid the water industry in its continued effort to improve water quality. The $100k award will be used to apply metagenomics, an exciting new technology that holds significant promise to water quality assessment. This technology will provide comprehensive information on microbial water quality and ecology of water treatment and distribution systems. Compared to current microbial techniques, metagenomics with exceptional speed and accuracy provides improved identification of microbial communities.

“OCWD is committed to research and development to provide the very best and most effective treatment to provide safe water and we’re honored to receive this prestigious grant,” said OCWD President Denis Bilodeau. “We are equally honored to partner on this important work with world renowned scientists from CosmosID, the University of Maryland College Park and Cotruvo Associates. We look forward to conducting this research, led by OCWD Principal Scientist Menu Leddy, that will benefit the entire water community and support the District’s mission to provide clean, reliable, safe water.”

The scientific team working on the grant includes CosmosID’s Founder and Global Science Officer, Dr. Rita Colwell, a recipient of the 2010 Stockholm Water Prize, and the 2006 National Medal of Science of the United States, along with Cotruvo Associates President Dr. Joseph Cotruvo, a former Director of the Criteria and Standards Division of the Environmental Protection Agency Office of Drinking Water and Vice President of NSF International.

The NSF grant, Metagenomic Analysis of Microbial Communities to Ensure Water Quality and Safety, is focused on identifying and characterizing microorganisms by using next generation sequencing and metagenomics, providing accurate and actionable assessment of microbial water quality for both indirect and direct potable reuse. This research is expected to ultimately provide the basis for maintenance of public health safety in water reuse.

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