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US Water Prize for Outstanding Cross-Sector Partnership: KC Water Green Stewards Program

US Water Alliance | August 24, 2021

KC Water’s Green Stewards Program emerged out of their Smart Sewer Program, which is a 25-year plan to reduce and prevent sewer overflows in Kansas City, MO. It is the first Consent Decree in the nation to include green infrastructure as a means of capturing stormwater before it enters the sewer. The Green Stewards Program is a workforce development initiative that supports the maintenance and monitoring of green infrastructure across the city. 

The green infrastructure projects, installed by Green Stewards participants, are designed to reduce stormwater runoff, but the program achieves far more than sewer overflow reduction. The Green Stewards Program also focuses on the development of skills in green infrastructure and landscape maintenance to train participants for long-term employment in those fields.  
 
KC Water runs the program in partnership with Bridging the Gap (BTG), a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting environment, economy, and community. BTG leads recruiting and hiring efforts for the program, and provides training and individual support to program participants, who often face barriers to employment. Participants also receive classroom instruction that is supplemented by field visits.  
 
The goal of the two-year Green Stewards Program is for participants, also known as Stewards, to graduate primed for other meaningful employment. After completing the program, BTG supports Stewards as they seek their next employment opportunities. Through the program, Stewards have met a variety of personal development and growth milestones and have contributed to the success of the of the Smart Sewer Program.  
 
The US Water Alliance is pleased to award KC Water’s Green Stewards Program with the US Water Prize for Outstanding Cross-Sector Partnership in recognition for their work advancing sustainable, integrated, and inclusive solutions to water challenges.