2012 Prize Winners


The U.S. Water Alliance proud to honor the 2012 class of U.S. Water Prize winners for their watershed-based approaches toward water sustainability.  “These six water champions are showing America how to innovate, integrate, and educate for water sustainability and economic success,” explained Alliance President Ben Grumbles. U.S. Water Prize winners by alphabetical order are:


Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District

The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) is a regional government agency that provides water reclamation and flood management services for about 1.1 million customers in 28 communities in Greater Milwaukee. MMSD serves 411 square miles that cover all or segments of six watersheds. As a state-chartered government agency, MMSD’s mission is to protect public health, property, and the environment by providing wastewater conveyance, treatment, and flood management services.

MMSD’s holistic approach to water management works on a watershed level. MMSD’s cutting-edge pilot watershed-based permitting (WBP) focuses on a holistic, innovative geography-based approach to discharge permitting. WBPs extend to the natural boundaries of watersheds rather than being confined to political jurisdictions or industries. WBP conditions and expected outcomes are designed to meet core program requirements of the Clean Water Act (CWA), while tailoring management measures to the needs and characteristics of specific Milwaukee-area watersheds.

The pilot WBP program offers Southeastern Wisconsin a more sustainable, holistic approach to water resource management. Through this pilot program, shifts are made toward integrated stormwater permitting programs that focus on overall watershed improvements. Cooperating on this effort are state and federal regulators, non-governmental organizations, and local units of government within the Menomonee and Kinnickinnic Rivers’ Watersheds intent on collaboration, work coordination, and integrating and prioritizing implementation. Recommended actions in the WBPs can improve water quality and help reduce implementation costs.


PepsiCo Frito-Lay

As the second largest food and Beverage Company in the world, water is fundamental to PepsiCo’s ability to operate efficiently and vital to the communities we serve. Water stewardship is a central part of PepsiCo’s “Performance with Purpose”— their mission is to deliver sustainable growth by investing in healthier futures for people and our planet. PepsiCo takes a comprehensive approach to water stewardship, including: watershed preservation, agricultural interventions, responsible use within its operations, and strategic engagement and advocacy.

PepsiCo has set aggressive water goals for itself across the business. They are working to:

  • Improve their water-use efficiency by 20 percent per unit of production by 2015.
  • Strive for positive water impact in water distressed areas.
  • Provide access to safe water to three million people in developing countries by the end of 2015.

PepsiCo’s global operations units are critical to the process and have helped PepsiCo make great strides with their water stewardship journey.  PepsiCo through 2010 has improved water-use efficiency by approximately 18%.  These conservation efforts translate to a water savings of nearly 13.8 billion liters compared with the 2006 baseline.

One example of this commitment to water efficiency is its water reclamation project in our Casa Grande Snack Facility. The facility’s product water meets EPA primary and secondary drinking water quality standards for reuse in washing and cooking products. A unique design including: bioreactors, membrane bioreactor, activated carbon, low pressure reverse osmosis, ultraviolet light and chlorine disinfection provides 450 gpm capacity. The compact water recovery and recycling facility dramatically the amount of water discharged from the facility by 75%; reducing water use by up to 100 million gallons per year which is a significant environmental benefit in this desert region. The project is one critical step toward PepsiCo’s goal of greatly reducing its global impact on the environment.


Philadelphia Water Department

The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) provides integrated water, wastewater, and stormwater service. Their core mission alone requires then to address complex environmental, demographic and financial challenges. PWD, however, has expanded their mission to become the steward and protector of Philadelphia’s rivers and stream through a program call Green City, Clean Waters (GCCW). The vision behind GCCW is to unite the city with its water environment, creating a green legacy for future generations, while finding a balance between ecology, economics, and equity. GCCW is a holistic approach to urban water resources management that integrates solutions to stormwater management into the socioeconomic fabric of the City, thereby creating amenities for the City’s residents. GCCW’s commitment is to “green” more than 34 percent of the combined sewer area’s impervious cover in the coming 25 years, at a total sot of over 2.4 billion dollars. This commitment includes funding for increased treatment and transmission capacity of the combined sewer system; watershed planning; the design, construction, operation and maintenance of green stormwater infrastructure the review of private sector development plans for compliance with PWD’s stormwater regulations stream restoration; and public outreach and education.

PWD’s approach is being watched, and in some cases, emulated by other cities. The US EPA and the City of Philadelphia are currently discussing the creation of an innovative partnership to advance green stormwater infrastructure for urban wet weather pollution control. The partnership is designed to emphasize support for PWD’s approach that is expected to yield multiple benefits through improvement of the urban environment and community livability, and to serve as a model for cities nationally for sustainable stormwater management.


Project WET Foundation

The Project WET Foundation and its extensive, grass‐roots network of school and community educators reach thousands of formal and non‐formal educators and millions of children and youth annually with water‐science education.

Project WET (“WET” stands for “Water Education for Teachers”) achieves its mission of worldwide water education in part by publishing award‐winning water education materials, including the free, interactive water education website DiscoverWater.org, the Project WET Curriculum and Activity Guide 2.0, the Discover a Watershed series and the Kids in Discovery series, among others. The U.S. 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization also provides training workshops on nearly every water topic imaginable, organizes community water events and continually builds its worldwide network of educators, water resource professionals and scientists to work together on confronting water challenges.

Project WET espouses four core beliefs:

  • Water connects us all: Water moves through living and nonliving systems and binds them together in a complex web of life.
  • Water for all water users: Water of sufficient quality and quantity is vital for all water users, including not only rural and urban dwellers but also energy producers, farmers and ranchers, fish and wildlife, manufacturers, and recreationists.
  • Managing water sustainably: Water resources management is crucial for providing tomorrow’s children with social and economic stability in a healthy and sustainable environment.
  • Personal responsibility for water resources: Awareness of and respect for water resources can encourage a personal, lifelong commitment of responsibility and positive community participation.

Project WET’s methodology promotes ActionEducation™—interactive educational opportunities that increase awareness and encourage participants to engage in meaningful action to address local water issues with sustainable solutions.


Salmon Falls Watershed Collaborative

The Salmon Falls River is fed by an ecologically diverse land area shared by the states of Maine and New Hampshire, and drains into the Great Bay Estuary, a coastal ecosystem of national importance.  Approximately 28,000 people rely on public water systems in the watershed for drinking water and many other households rely on private groundwater wells within this region. The Salmon Falls Watershed Collaborative highlights the importance of inter-jurisdictional partnerships to protect and sustain drinking water supplies. This inter-state collaborative between Maine and New Hampshire unites local, state and federal partners to protect forests and reduce stormwater pollution from anticipated development.

The SFWC is not a new “organization,” but rather an action-oriented partnership among local, state and federal partners to address increases in polluted runoff resulting from rapid population growth and conversion of forested land to developed areas in the watershed.  The SFWC conducted a workshop in October 2010 and is now actively working together to protect and sustain clean drinking water in the watershed.  Some of the recent accomplishments include:

  • Working with local communities to implement land use ordinances;
  • Working with organizations to promote land conservation and water quality benefits;
  • Conducting water quality and quantity analysis for targeting adaptation and mitigation efforts;
  • Producing a timely E-newsletter and web site;
  • Working with state conservationists to target county level funding ; and
  • Working with USDA NRCS to develop a Conservation Activity Plan for conserving forests and forestry practices.


San Francisco Public Utilities Commission

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) has three enterprises, Water, Power and Sewer which work together to manage and protect its varied water resources in a manner that is inclusive of environmental and community interests, and that sustain the resources entrusted to its care.  In response to challenges presented by climate change, aging infrastructure, and regulations SFPUC has adopted an approach that manages water as one resource – efficiently and sustainably.

Over the past five years SFPUC has implemented energy efficiency projects at all of its water and wastewater facilities including solar panel installations; municipal street lighting retrofits for energy efficiency; and the production of biofuel from brown grease – which helps protect the city’s sewers from grease build up. SFPUC is also diversifying its water supply portfolio with new investments in water conservation; groundwater use and management; reuse of effluent, grey water and sump water; rain water harvesting and stormwater management with green infrastructure.

SFPUC is committed to developing an urban watershed management plan that minimizes the impact of the City’s built environment on its watersheds, maximizes sewer system performance, engages community members, creates a resilient, water-sensitive city, and protects the water quality of the San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean. To achieve these goals, SFPUC implemented its Urban Watershed Management Program (UWMP), which takes an integrated urban watershed management approach to developing policies and managing water resources that embraces innovation, integration, and public participation and education.

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