2017 US Water Prize winners announced

The US Water Alliance has awarded the 2017 US Water Prize to five recipients: Aurora Water; Kohler; ‘Change the Course,’ a national freshwater restoration campaign; Mark Schleifstein of the New Orleans Times-Picayune; and Adam Putnam, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture.

This year, the US Water Alliance added two new categories to the Water Prize: Outstanding Journalism on the Value of Water and Outstanding Public Official, awarded to Schleifstein and Putnam, respectively.

“Awarding the US Water Prize to an incredibly deserving group of organizations and individuals is one of the highlights of our work,” said Radhika Fox, CEO of US Water Alliance. “The Alliance created the US Water Prize to shine a light on the exemplary work happening in the water sector across the country. Congratulations to our winners-you inspire us to secure a sustainable water future for all.”

The awards ceremony took place on the evening of June 27 at the historic Civic Theater in New Orleans, kicking off the US Water Alliance’s One Water Summit 2017. The One Water Summit brings together 600 water leaders from across the country to network, engage in dialogues about the most pressing topics in water, and to bring actionable ideas back home.

“The US Water Prize gives us the opportunity to celebrate the innovative and sustainable approaches to water management happening all over the country,” added Kevin Shafer, executive director of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewer District and chairman of the US Water Alliance board. “Our Water Prize winners know that tackling our nation’s water problems is no easy task. But they show us that it’s possible. If we work together, leverage our resources, and remain persistent in the pursuit of breakthroughs.”

About the 2017 Water Prize winners:

Aurora Water’s Prairie Water Program

Aurora, Colorado is facing the water supply problems of many cities and regions in the arid west—a changing climate alongside a growing population. To combat these issues and secure the area’s water stability, Aurora Water worked with regional partners to create the Prairie Waters system, a innovative system that recapturing and recycling water to provide drinking water and drought insurance for the region.  Using a multi barrier treatment process that includes both naturally-existing systems and state-of-the-art purification systems, Prairie Waters provides an additional twelve million gallons of clean, safe and dependable water each day. The Prairie Water program will help meet Aurora’s complex water needs for decades to come and can be a model for other regions experiencing changes in their water supply needs.


A keystone of the Kohler corporate philosophy is that better business and a better environment go hand in hand. Kohler has put that philosophy into action by committing to reducing waste and increasing sustainability through its products and its processes through programs like Net Zero 2035. Net Zero 2035 states that Kohler is working towards a goal of sending no solid waste to landfills, reducing or offsetting 100% of their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and reducing their water usage. Kohler is working to fulfill this commitment by creating products that surpass industry standards for reducing both water waste and the energy required to treat water. Kohler is a corporate leader in demonstrating that water products can be beautiful, functional, and efficient.

Change the Course

Change the Course brings together the public, corporations, and nonprofit organizations to reduce water waste and replenish depleted water sources. Individuals and businesses are challenged to pledge to reduce their water footprint. For every pledge received, Change the Course commits to replenishing one thousand gallons of water to depleted watersheds. To date, Change the Course, along with its corporate partners, has replenished over eight billion gallons of water through thirty-five restoration projects in 11 states and in Mexico. Because of Change the Coure’s commitment to water conservation and replenishment, a quarter of a million people have already been inspired to commit to reducing their water waste while corporate partners have worked to meet ambitious sustainability goals.

Mark Schleifstein, New Orleans Times-Picayune

Over a 33-year career at the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Mark Schleifstein has covered doggedly covered water and the environment in a city has many stories to tell on the topic. From the blockbusters — Hurricane Katrina and Deepwater Horizon — to the quieter but still vital stories like coastal erosion and the Gulf “Dead Zone,” Schleifstein has reported on the water stories that critical the lives of people in the New Orleans community. Recognizing the importance of his work, the New York Times has partnered with the Times-Picayune to bring Schleifstein’s reporting on climate to a larger audience. As in-depth reporting on water and the environment becomes even more critical, Mark Schleifstein’s work is an example of excellence.

Adam Putnam, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture

Water has been at the center of Adam Putnam’s work his entire career. Through his work as a rancher, State Representative, Congressman, and now Florida Commissioner of Agriculture, Commissioner Putnam has seen firsthand that Florida’s economic future—from agriculture to tourism—depends on clean and reliable water. Commissioner Putnam has used his office to advance policies necessary to secure Florida’s water. His accomplishments include securing funding for Everglades preservation and helping establish Florida’s first comprehensive water plan in decades. Our nation’s water future depends on the support public sector advocates like Commissioner Putnan.

The US Water Alliance thanks its independent review panel for their hard work in choosing the winners of this year’s awards:

  • Joel Beauvais, Partner, Latham & Watkins LLP
  • Mark LeChevallier, Vice President and Chief Environmental Officer, American Water
  • Brian Pallasch, Managing Director for Government Relations and Infrastructure Initiatives, American Society of Civil Engineers
  • Kevin Shafer, Executive Director, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District
  • Jumana Vasi, Vice Chair, Environmental Grantmakers Association

Read more about the 2017 US Water Prize winners here.

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