More than 300 water leaders gathered April 7 at the National Geographic Society’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. to honor the winners of the 2014 U.S. Water Prize.
The winners are Alliance for Water Efficiency, Chicago, Ill.; American Water, Voorhees, N.J.; Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati, Ohio; and Orange County Water District and Sanitation District, Calif.
“A huge piece of climate change revolves around water,” explained U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy as she addressed the ceremony. "There’s a thread that ties all these winners together. It’s that they aren’t just thinking about providing clean water today, but managing it for the future. That kind of ingenuity requires thinking outside the box. It requires breaking down barriers and cross-collaboration.”
McCarthy connected U.S. Water Prize winner’s accomplishments to EPA’s work and announced the release of their second “Blueprint” addressing energy reduction and recovery at drinking water and wastewater facilities. “The 150,000 drinking water and 15,000 wastewater facilities nationwide account for almost 2 percent of electricity consumption,” McCarthy said. “That’s enough to power 6 million homes a year.”
Commenting after the program, U.S. Water Alliance President Ben Grumbles offered, “The Blueprint shows how bright America’s water future can be if innovation and partnership rise to the top. EPA should be commended for articulating a vision and helping others, public and private, local and national, to step forward with sustainable solutions to our most important and enduring challenges.”
Deputy Secretary Michael Connor, U.S. Department of the Interior, also picked up on the theme as he congratulated winners: “Innovation in partnerships may very well be the key.” He described his experiences touring areas that have been hit by extreme weather and drought. “The urgency of these events epitomizes the phrase “water is life.”
In its fourth year, the U.S. Water Prize is presented by the U.S. Water Alliance to elevate those organizations, and individuals, with strategies that promote the value of water and the power of innovating and integrating for one water sustainability. The 2014 awards were sponsored by engineering consultants Brown and Caldwell, CH2M Hill, HDR, and Earth Day Texas, a non-profit organization. Nominations are reviewed by an independent, volunteer panel of judges representative of the most respected leaders in the fields of water and environmental policy.