News | May 10, 2011

U.S. Water Prize Ceremony Honors Leaders In Water Sustainability


In a ceremony attended by 200 water leaders, the Clean Water America Alliance presented the 2011 U.S. Water Prize recently to the City of Los Angeles, Milwaukee Water Council, National Great Rivers Research & Education Center, New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and the Pacific Institute. "Today, our water challenges highlight concerns throughout our society – growing populations and urbanization; new chemicals in our products, environment and bodies, new sources of pollution; and adaptation to climate change," noted Assistant Administrator for Water Bob Perciasepe of U.S. EPA. "To confront these growing challenges, we need innovative strategies and cutting-edge technologies like those being used, developed and promoted by this year's United States Water Prize winners."

"These Five U.S. Water Prize winners reflect the diversity of America," declared Ben Grumbles, President of the Clean Water America Alliance. He explained by pointing out highlights of each winner's accomplishments, "Los Angeles is connecting the dots and drops to show the nation how integrated resource planning, from sanitation to transportation, can save water and energy for the planet and money for people. The Milwaukee Water Council is a world-class example of regional collaboration and technological innovation for a future of clean water and good jobs. New York City's Department of Environmental Protection is showing the world, on a massive scale, the power of green infrastructure and resource recovery to prevent water pollution and produce clean energy. The National Great Rivers Research and Education Center is a first-class facility with one of the most important missions of our time: advancing science and inspiring people to save and restore grand ecosystems that shape our communities and determine our future. Last, but not least, the world needs more Pacific Institutes and Peter Gleicks to shed light and insight on water and watersheds and make the connections with clean energy and climate change policies" Grumbles concluded, "Each of these U.S. Water Prize winners sets a shining example for innovating, integrating, and collaborating to sustain America's liquid assets."

In its inaugural year, the U.S. Water Prize has become a unifying star for the water sector. Ten engineering firms and water service businesses have joined forces to sponsor the award. "In many parts of the country the writing is on the wall, water challenges are reaching near crisis proportions," noted Chair Dick Champion, Chair of the Clean Water America Alliance. "Proactively, these businesses have come together to drive innovation through the Prize. We know one size doesn't fit all. Having a prestigious award draws attention to an array of solutions." Lead sponsors include AECOM, Pirnie/ARCADIS, Veolia, CH2M Hill, and Brown and Caldwell. Supporting Sponsors are CDM, Black & Veatch, MWH Global, Burns & McDonnell, and HDR.

Formed in 2008, the Clean Water America Alliance is a nonprofit 501c3 educational organization whose goal is to unite people and policies for water sustainability. A broad cross-section of interests is coming together through the Alliance to advance holistic, watershed-based approaches to water quality and quantity challenges. The organization presents the U.S. Water Prize annually to recognize achievement and inspire action for water sustainability. For more information, visit

City Of Los Angeles
The City of Los Angeles' Water Integrated Resources Plan (IRP) started with a simple yet ambitious vision: City Departments working with the community to manage water resources holistically. This innovative approach led the City down a seven-year path toward a plan for Los Angeles' future. The IRP integrates supply, conservation, recycling and runoff management with wastewater facilities planning through a regional watershed approach, enlisting the public in the planning and design development process.

Departing from traditional single-purpose planning efforts, the IRP resulted in greater efficiency in water resource management and multiple citywide benefits, including energy and cost savings, reduced dependence on imported water, reusing stormwater and conserving drinking water.

The IRP also produced a far-reaching Low Impact Development ordinance and a 20% reduction in water use due to conservation incentives and education. Los Angeles' water consumption today is the same as it was 30 years ago despite one million more users. As implementation continues, the City keeps stakeholders engaged and involved—putting Los Angeles on the path to becoming the greenest and cleanest big City in America while ensuring a waterwise and sustainable future.

Milwaukee Water Council
When the Milwaukee Water Council formed in 2007, it was said that the strength of Milwaukee's collective water cluster made it a World Water Hub. Today, thanks in large part to the work of the council, the Milwaukee region is now being mentioned alongside a handful of cities known to be world leaders in water technology. The Milwaukee Water Council has worked to make it clear that water is valuable, endeavoring to raise awareness that water is an essential asset for the community and its economic development.

By harnessing the power of an existing industry cluster (more than 130 companies), linking a rapidly expanding academic research community and convening some of the nation's brightest and most energetic professionals, the Milwaukee Water Council is turning the Milwaukee region's focus toward the critical role of assuring clean water on a global level. This is accomplished by consistently bringing together all parties to leverage collaboration around advancing water technology. This includes the development of a hub built around education and the establishment of a freshwater school, research and development, and water-related industry.

National Great Rivers Research & Education Center
The National Great Rivers Research & Education Center (NGRREC) is the result of a unique partnership formed by Lewis and Clark Community College, the University of Illinois and the Illinois Natural History Survey. The Center's mission is to advance the nation's understanding of great rivers, their floodplains and watersheds for the purpose of sustaining the plant, animal and human communities that depend upon them. Since 2002, NGRREC has developed programs involving a myriad of partner institutions, engaged hundreds of volunteers, thousands of middle and high school students and more than 150 college students through its annual intern program.

NGRREC is located in the newly constructed Jerry F. Costello Confluence Field Station on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land, adjacent to the Melvin Price Locks and Dam in Alton, Ill. The 30,000-square-foot facility was opened in October and provides NGRREC with increased capacity to build upon its current efforts and address water issues on a national and international scale.

The field station is one of the most environmentally advanced facilities in the state, and provides a platform for NGRREC to educate others about sustainability initiatives. Through the Center's education and outreach efforts, the facility's numerous sustainable design features (onsite water treatment, wind/hydrokinetic power, solar lighting/heat, green roof, permeable pavement, etc.) are promoted on a regional and national level as a model for how resource compatible development and community awareness and empowerment can go hand-in-hand. NGRREC supports the use of green infrastructure as a critical element of comprehensive wastewater planning and conservation reuse.

New York City Department Of Environmental Protection
The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is a City agency of nearly 6,000 employees that manages and conserves the City's water supply; distributes more than one billion gallons of clean drinking water each day to 9 million New Yorkers and collects wastewater through a vast underground network of pipes, regulators, and pumping stations; and treats the 1.3 billion gallons of wastewater that New Yorkers produce each day in a way that protects the quality of New York Harbor. To achieve these mandates, DEP oversees one of the largest capital construction programs in the region. As the City agency responsible for New York City's environment, DEP also regulates air quality, hazardous waste, and critical quality of life issues, including noise.

Though DEP has always been committed to achieving its many goals in the most sustainable way possible, over the past year the agency has established itself as a leader in sustainability. In early 2010, DEP appointed a Deputy Commissioner for Sustainability to implement PlaNYC, and make sustainability a core consideration for our agency. DEP has also assumed much of the energy planning for New York City, and it continues to regulate local sources of air, noise, and asbestos pollution. Now more than ever, the agency is focused on initiatives that complement and advance policies for water quality, energy conservation, air quality, land use, and climate change mitigation and adaptation policies, and economic development and quality of life for all New Yorkers.

The Pacific Institute
The Pacific Institute in Oakland, Calif. has been called the most innovative and effective independent non-governmental organization in the field of water and sustainability, and co-founder and President Dr. Peter Gleick is considered by many the worlds' leading expert, innovator, and communicator on freshwater resources. Over 24 years, the Institute has advanced the soft path to water, including conservation and efficiency solutions to water shortages; helped define and championed the human right to water; contributed to official water policy changes aimed at sustainability; done groundbreaking research on the impacts of climate change on freshwater resources; shown businesses efficient ways of operating that also protect customers, workers, communities, and the environment; created non-governmental coalitions that redefine standards on environmental issues and corporate social responsibility; and spun off a non-governmental coalition on environmental justice for water.

SOURCE: Clean Water America Alliance