Washington, D.C. – The Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) will honor 11 public drinking water systems with its top utility management awards on October 23 during its awards luncheon at the 2023 Executive Management Conference in San Diego, California. This year, AMWA will present six systems with the Sustainable Water Utility Management Award, one system with the Platinum Award for Utility Excellence, and four systems with the Gold Award for Exceptional Utility Performance.
The Sustainable Water Utility Management Award recognizes water utilities committed to achieving a balance of innovative and successful efforts in economic, social, and environmental areas. The Platinum and Gold Awards recognize outstanding achievements in implementing the nationally recognized Attributes of Effective Utility Management.
The 2023 AMWA Sustainable Water Utility Management Award winners are:
- Atlanta Department of Watershed Management
- Beaver Water District
- Birmingham Water Works
- Contra Costa Water District
- Mesa Water Resources Department
- Portland Water District
The 2023 AMWA Platinum Award for Utility Excellence winner is:
- Ann Arbor Water Utilities
The 2023 Gold Award for Exceptional Utility Performance winners are:
- Howard County Department of Public Works Bureau of Utilities
- Passaic Valley Water Commission
- Toho Water Authority
- Upper Trinity Regional Water District
"I want to extend my congratulations to the award winners for their exceptional dedication to providing their communities with the highest standard of safe and high-quality drinking water,” said AMWA CEO Tom Dobbins, CAE. “Receiving an AMWA award represents the pinnacle of excellence in managing and operating drinking water utilities, while maintaining affordable service and supporting the environment through sustainable efforts.”
Sustainable Water Utility Management Award Winners
The Atlanta Department of Watershed Management (DWM) has achieved fiscal strength and invested in crucial capital projects since receiving the Sustainable Water Utility Management Award in 2017. They prioritize financial resilience by managing utility costs and balancing long-term debt, asset value, revenues, and expenses, resulting in stable rates. Their sound fiscal practices led to an upgrade in the Fitch credit rating to AA in November 2021. DWM is also focusing on green infrastructure to address flooding and water quality issues while adapting to rapid growth and climate change.
Beaver Water District (BWD) is a model of sustainable water utility management, emphasizing excellence in daily operations. Their Source Water Protection efforts involve dedicated funds to reduce sediment and nutrient loading in Beaver Lake, and they also employ various eco-friendly practices, including oil analysis, LED lighting, and recycling. Stakeholder engagement is vital, with educational programs and a Crisis Communication Plan that fosters trust within their community.
Birmingham Water Works (BWW), Alabama's largest water utility, serves 770,000 people in a geographically complex service area. Their 2022-2026 Strategic Plan emphasizes sustainability through financial stability, infrastructure integrity, and environmental stewardship. They focus on maintaining competitive water rates and effective communication with the public and stakeholders to ensure a sustainable and healthy future.
Contra Costa Water District (CCWD) in California, following their 2020 AMWA Sustainability Award win, remains committed to sustainable water management, financial responsibility, and exceptional customer service. Their comprehensive infrastructure plans, with a forward-looking perspective of up to fifty years, address customer needs. They also play a leadership role in preserving Delta water quality and regional water supply reliability. CCWD employs long-term and near-term strategies to manage water supplies efficiently, treating water in state-of-the-art plants to meet public health requirements.
Mesa Water Resources Department is a forward-thinking utility committed to effective water management. The department has significantly reduced its reliance on non-renewable groundwater supplies and achieves 100 percent reuse of reclaimed water, contributing to resource conservation. The city's Climate Action Plan leads to strategic investments in water infrastructure, including smart meters for real-time water use monitoring, promoting conservation, and the installation of green infrastructure. The utility also builds trust within the community through educational efforts like the "Know Your H2O" program.
Portland Water District (PWD), as Maine's largest water and wastewater utility, emphasizes sustainable practices and long-term reliability. They actively participate in the Maine Water Assistance Program, providing substantial financial aid to households in need. Water resource protection is a priority, with robust land conservation efforts and partnerships like the Sebago Clean Waters initiative. In 2020, they secured $8 million for land conservation in the Sebago Lake watershed.
Platinum Award for Utility Excellence
Ann Arbor Water is a regional water provider serving 125,000 customers and recently unified its three water utilities under the "Ann Arbor Water" brand. They are actively replacing galvanized service lines connected to lead ahead of the regulatory deadline and actively engaging in research and new technology to advance water science. The commitment to carbon neutrality by 2030 is exemplified by their climate millage, and they prioritize delivering high-quality water, embodying a "Commitment to Excellence."
Gold Award for Exceptional Utility Performance
Howard County Department of Public Works (DPW), Bureau of Utilities has made significant strides in infrastructure and utility management, setting the stage for the next thirty years. They have developed hydraulic models for water distribution and sewerage collection systems, aiding in the identification and resolution of system deficiencies and the planning of future expansion. They have also conducted condition assessments of critical pipelines to identify areas at risk for corrosion, prompting rehabilitation and renewal efforts.
The Passaic Valley Water Commission (PVWC) has been serving Northeast New Jersey since 1849 and is committed to continuous improvement and innovation in water treatment. They actively engage in construction and maintenance, replacing water lines, valves, hydrants, and inefficient equipment. PVWC's "Knock out the Lead" program aims to replace all lead lines by 2025, ahead of state mandates. Their strategic plan involves streamlining processes, cross-training staff, enhancing customer service operations, and preparing for climate change and power outages with the installation of emergency generators.
Toho Water Authority has efficiently managed its growing customer base and aging infrastructure through a cost-effective asset management program over the past two decades. They prioritize water resource management through regional partnerships and, in October 2022, merged with St. Cloud Utilities to enhance water service resiliency, particularly during severe weather events. Toho also emphasizes customer service through initiatives like "Toho Cares," focusing on team and customer satisfaction, staff training, communication, and benchmarking.
Upper Trinity Regional Water District (UTRWD) serves a rapidly growing area in North Texas, delivering clean and dependable drinking water to a significant population. Their recent accomplishments involve infrastructure expansion, construction projects, and recognition in the water sector, highlighting their dedication to providing reliable water and wastewater services. Despite budget challenges, UTRWD's Board of Directors managed to balance the budget with a modest rate increase, ensuring fiscal soundness. Additionally, their success in water conservation earned them recognition as an "Exemplary Wholesale Utility."
For over 40 years, the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies has been the nation's unified and definitive voice for the nation's largest publicly owned drinking water systems on legislative, regulatory, security, sustainability, and utility management issues.
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