Award honors innovators, integrators and educators for water sustainability
Commemorating Earth Day, the Clean Water America Alliance presented six outstanding organizations the 2012 U.S. Water Prize in a ceremony attended by 300 U.S. water leaders. “Water needs champions,” said Ben Grumbles, president of the Alliance. “These six shining stars bring creative strategies and cutting-edge approaches that deserve to be promoted as models toward water sustainability.” In alphabetical order, they are Pepsico Frito-Lay, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, Philadelphia Water Department, Project Wet Foundation, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and Salmon Falls Watershed Collaborative.
Cross agency interest and enthusiasm for the U.S. Water Prize was reflected in the panel of keynote speakers that included the Honorable Anne Castle, assistant secretary for Water and Science, U.S. Department of the Interior; Nancy Stoner, acting assistant administrator for Water, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and; Ann Mills, deputy under secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, U.S. Department of Agriculture. “We’re celebrating water heroes today who are leading the way for a more sustainable future,” said Grumbles. “Each winner is improving our water future in different and important ways.” The Alliance distinguished each of the winner’s accomplishments:
Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District is embracing innovation and collaboration to reduce pollution throughout the 411 sq mile metropolitan watershed. They're pursuing a pilot project for watershed-based permitting, and possibly trading, within watersheds of two rivers to reduce phosphorus pollution in the most effective and efficient way possible, tailoring priorities among diverse interests and stakeholders and continuing to integrate green and gray infrastructure.
Pepsico Frito-Lay is instilling a corporate culture of water conservation and reuse to save water, energy and money. As one example, a Frito-Lay chip-making facility in Casa Grande, Ariz., is reducing its water footprint by cleaning and reusing process water, leaving more for citizens and ecosystems in a thirsty region. A 700,000-gal-per-day system recycles process water and treats it to drinking water standards for various uses within the plant, saving up to 100 million gal of fresh water per year that would otherwise be withdrawn from the region's aquifer.
Philadelphia Water Department’s "Green City, Clean Waters" program is a national model for sustaining urban watersheds and uniting citizens and businesses. They're committing to "greening" more than 34% of the combined sewer area's impervious cover in the coming 25 years, at a total cost of more than $2.4 billion. It's winning praise from regulators, planners and environmentalists because it embraces "triple bottom line" thinking to advance environmental, economic and equity goals with principles of innovation, flexibility and accountability.
Project WET Foundation has created a worldwide water web of students, teachers, trainers and sustainers in 50 states and 56 countries, with no sign of slowing down. Educational and inspirational tools help children of all ages connect to their watersheds, see the worth of water and take action for stewardship and sustainability.
San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is taking to heart the "one water" management theme, using integration and cooperation to reduce urban storm water problems, increase the linkages between energy and water conservation and build public support for investments in the future, including a $5 billion sewer system improvement program. Regulatory and nonregulatory incentives, public education and workshops will help advance low-impact development strategies to reduce coastal and ocean pollution and increase water and energy security.
Salmon Falls Watershed Collaborative consists of agencies and individuals who are joining forces upstream to prevent polluted runoff, conserve forests and reduce downstream drinking water treatment costs. By connecting the dots between forests and faucets and between private lands and public benefits, this unique interstate partnership involving Maine and New Hampshire and local and federal interests protects source waters and promotes smart growth beyond the borders of political subdivisions and bureaucratic boundaries.
In its second year, the U.S. Water Prize is facilitated by the Alliance representing a broad collaboration of interests. “The water sector is ready to elevate the discussion on water and advance the practice to the next generation,” said Chair Dick Champion, Clean Water America Alliance. “Proactively, these business sponsors have come together through the Alliance endowing the prestige of the U.S. Water Prize to advance the practice of the water sector.” Lead sponsors include MWH Global, Brown and Caldwell, Veolia and CH2M HILL. Additional sponsors include Malcolm Pirnie/ARCADIS, CDM Smith, and HDR.