AWARDS: U.S. Water Prize Winners Honored In Washington, D.C.

In February, the Clean Water America Alliance (CWAA) announced the winners of the 2012 U.S. Water Prize for watershed-based approaches toward water sustainability. On April 23, the CWAA, along with national water and environmental leaders, commemorated those winners with a special ceremony at the Washington Marriott Hotel in Washington, D.C. ?

?These six water champions are showing America how to innovate, integrate and educate for water sustainability and economic success,? explained CWAA President Ben Grumbles. ?We?re celebrating water heroes today who are leading the way for a more sustainable future. Each winner is improving our water future in different and important ways.?

The six Water Prize winners are PepsiCo Frito-Lay Inc., Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, Philadelphia Water Department, Project WET Foundation, the Salmon Falls Watershed Collaborative and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. According to a CWAA announcement, 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.

Pepsico Frito-Lay is instilling a corporate culture of water conservation and re-use 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 re-using process water, leaving more for citizens and ecosystems. A 700,000 gallon-per-day system recycles process water and treats it to drinking water standards for various uses within the plant, saving up to 100 million gallons of fresh water per year that would otherwise be withdrawn from the region?s aquifer.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 percent of the combined sewer area?s impervious cover in the coming 25 years, at a total cost of over $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 world-wide 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 value 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 stormwater problems, increase the linkages between energy and water conservation and build public support for investments in the future. This includes a $5 billion sewer system improvement program. Regulatory and non-regulatory incentives, public education and workshops will help advance low impact development strategies to reduce coastal and ocean pollution while increasing water and energy security.

The 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, New Hampshire as well as 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 to recognize achievement and inspire action for water sustainability. Brown and Caldwell, Veolia North America, CH2M HILL, MWH, Pirnie/ARCADIS, CDM Smith and HDR are among the sponsors of the 2012 U.S. Water Prize.

?The water sector is ready to elevate the discussion on water and advance the practice to the next generation,? said Dick Champion, CWAA chair. ?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.?

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