Water treatment plant dedicated to influential UCR professor

Author: David Danelski
April 22, 2024

Wayne Miller
J. Wayne Miller at the water plant dedication ceremony. Photo/Yorba Linda Water District

The Yorba Linda Water District has dedicated a state-of-the-art water treatment plant in the name of J. Wayne Miller, an influential researcher and professor at UCR’s College of Engineering Center for Environmental Research and Technology, or CE-CERT.

Miller joined UCR in 2000 as a visiting researcher and adjunct professor following a career with Sun Oil Co. and UNOCAL. 

Miller has taught many courses in the Chemical and Environmental Engineering Department and CE-CERT and conducted an active research program with graduate students aimed at testing, characterizing, and reducing emissions from ocean-going vessels. He also taught classes on water quality. 

Miller served as an elected member of Yorba Linda Water District’s board of directors from December 2016 to November 2023, including a stint as the board’s president.

The water district honored Miller on April 16 at a treatment plant dedication ceremony attended by more than 80 people. The J. Wayne Miller, Ph.D. Water Treatment Plant will be the largest ion exchange “forever chemical” treatment plant in the nation with a processing capacity of 25 million gallons of drinking water per day.

Forever chemicals, also known as PFAS or poly- and per-fluoroalkyl substances, persist and accumulate in the environment due to stubbornly strong fluorine-to-carbon chemical bonds. They are used in thousands of products, ranging from grease-resistant potato chip bags to fire suppressant foams, and have been linked to various health maladies, including increased risk for prostate, kidney, and testicular cancers.

“When we faced the task of building this plant, there was only one in the nation, in Northern California,” said Miller in a statement posted by the water district. “I am proud that we were able to successfully test the ion exchange technology and make it work for the Yorba Linda Water District, providing our customers with clean drinking water and making our district less reliant on imported water.”

The plant dedication is one of many honors bestowed upon Miller. He has received the WPI Goddard Award for Outstanding Professional Achievement (2012); UCR Non-Faculty Research and Teaching Award (2008); U.S. EPA Climate Change Award (2007); and the U.S. Air Force’s Arnold Engineering Development Center Annual Technical Achievement