News | August 31, 2022

Water Environment Federation Honors Water Professionals, Organizations For Service And Contributions

The Water Environment Federation (WEF) proudly announces the 2022 WEF Awards recipients for individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the sustainability of water resources and made a profound impact on the future of the water profession.

The 2022 recipients for Individual Service and Contribution Awards and Organization and Association Recognition Awards are:

Outstanding Young Water Environment Professional Award
Brianne Nakamura, Chesapeake Water Environment Association

This award recognizes the contributions of young water environment professionals for significant contributions to WEF and to the wastewater collection and treatment industry.

Brianne Nakamura received this honor for her service and dedication to our industry and WEF. Her eager attitude and vision to connect and create opportunities for all has made an astounding impact on our water community. Brianne’s actions truly symbolize her passion for the water sector and understanding the need to lead with empathy to bring others along for the journey in educating the importance of water and the environment. She holds a BS in Civil Engineering from Syracuse University.

Water Heroes Award
Bowling Green Municipal Utilities, Bowling Green, KY and Gulf Coast Authority, Houston, TX
The Water Heroes Award recognizes individuals or municipalities who performed duties above and beyond the usual call of duty during an emergency to continue to protect the public and the environment. These duties shall elevate the status of the wastewater industry during an emergency to continue to protect the public and the environment.

Bowling Green Municipal Utilities
The 2021 tornadoes left over 24,000 electric customers without power. The tornadoes destroyed over 200 distribution pole and 52 transmission poles, resulting in significant damage. Firetrucks could not get to some areas because of flat tires due to debris. 6 utility backhoes to moved debris to help with search and rescue. After mutual aid crews arrived, employees continued to serve as groundmen to assist in damaged areas. Employees served alongside visiting crews and most worked sixteen-hour days. Power was restored to all areas before Christmas.

Gulf Coast Authority
This award is for the wastewater treatment teams at Gulf Coast Authority for their service during Winter Storm Uri. Gulf Coast Authority operates one wastewater treatment plant in Odessa, Texas and four wastewater treatment plants in the Houston area. As Uri approached, GCA initiated freeze preparation processes at each of the facilities. Each of the facilities was staffed during the storm to maintain operational control and provide essential maintenance and repair support. Employees continued to work to maintain wastewater treatment service even as their families or property were suffering disruption or hardship.

Public Officials Award
The Public Officials Award is presented to an elected or appointed public official that has made a documented, significant contribution in clean water legislation, public policy, government service, or another area of public prominence that resulted in improvements to the water environment.

The Honorable Patrick Leahy, U.S. Senator
Senator Leahy has been a champion for water policy throughout his 48 years in the U.S. Senate. He has co-sponsored numerous bills to protect the water environment plus he has fought against efforts to circumvent existing environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and the Endangered Species Act. He also has recognized the importance of recruiting the next generation into the clean water field through supporting workforce development programs.

The Honorable Roy Blunt, U.S. Senator
Senator Blunt has sponsored and supported water infrastructure funding throughout his 26 years in Washington, both as a Congressman and a Senator. He recognized and brought awareness to our nation’s alarming investment shortfall in maintaining and improving our transportation network, water and wastewater systems, and energy infrastructure. As a member of Appropriations Committee, Senator Blunt played an important role in securing critical funding for the Army Corps to restore flood control infrastructure along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers and to rebuild communities impacted by the unprecedented flooding.

Secretary Kenneth Wagner
Secretary Kenneth Wagner has been involved with water issues starting first in the private sector, then the federal level, and at the State level. He practiced law focusing on energy and environmental issues. At the Federal level, he Chaired the RESTORE Council which involved restoration of the Gulf coast after the Deepwater Horizon spill. At the State level, he created the Oklahoma Strategic Alliance for Water and championed legislation to allow watershed trading and the building of water/wastewater projects.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer
Mayor Greg Fischer envisioned a collaborative approach between the Louisville Water and Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District to identify strategic customer service efforts, operations, and money saving efficiencies. The One Water Partnership was established, and it creates millions of dollars of shared services opportunities each year. The Mayor has been recognized by being elected President of the U.S. Conference of mayors and is currently in his third term.

Water Mentorship Award
Rebecca West, Water Environment Association of South Carolina and Director of Project Management for AECOM
The purpose of the award is to acknowledge those WEF members who have a significant impact on the professional and personal development of one or more water quality professionals, including providing personal, social, and intellectual support.

Rebecca is a past President of WEF and a WEF Fellow with over 34 years of industry experience. She has served as an executive leader for several agencies within South Carolina including Greenville Water and Spartanburg Water. The young professionals Rebecca mentored have now gone on to top leadership roles for agencies across the nation. The people she supported and helped all praised her willingness to dedicate time and energy to helping them navigate their careers. She always took time to discuss with them major career challenges and turning points. She would ask challenging questions, focus on the positives, and help them think through their decisions without making the choice for them.

Water for People W. Hite Outstanding Leadership Award
Rahim Kanji, Water Environment Association of Ontario

The Robert W. Hite Distinguished Leadership Award recognizes a person (or couple) who has demonstrated active leadership to benefit others and is supportive of Water for People’s mission – someone who inspires a shared vision, is forward-thinking, and truly envisions a world where all people have access to safe water and sanitation facilities. The award is annually presented at WEFTEC.

Professional Engineer Rahim Kanji has been a dedicated and capable champion for the work of Water for People since his earliest involvement as a volunteer. He exemplifies servant leadership qualities and is a mentor to those less equipped and/or experience. Rahim is the Executive Director of the Southern Ontario Water Consortium (now the Ontario Water Consortium). Rahim is currently serving as the President of the Board.

Source: Water Environment Federation (WEF)