November 15, 2023

At One Water Summit 2023, the US Water Alliance was proud to announce the 2023 recipients of its prestigious US Water Prize. Each year, this accolade is presented to those trailblazers who are forging new paths in the water sector and redefining what’s possible in water management and sustainability.

As national water and climate challenges continue to put a strain on our communities, the urgency for innovative solutions grows. Water issues are often a bellwether for other climate-related impacts that disproportionately affect historically underserved communities and communities of color. Today, an estimated two million people in the United States face significant challenges in accessing safe drinking water and proper sanitation facilities.

“At a time when communities are feeling the brunt of water-related stresses, it is critical to shine a light on the One Water champions who have dedicated themselves to innovation and to developing scalable approaches to One Water solutions,” says Mami Hara, CEO of the Alliance. “We were deeply impressed with the caliber of nominations this year, and it’s exciting to witness the One Water vision come to life in so many different areas of this work.”

Yvonne Forrest, Chair of the US Water Alliance Board, adds: “Our heartfelt gratitude goes out to all the incredible candidates for this year’s US Water Prize. Your visionary efforts in crafting a more sustainable water future for our nation and your dedication to bringing these ideas to life is both inspiring and essential. We’re delighted to celebrate the diversity and ingenuity of this year’s distinguished awardees.”

The 2023 US Water Prize winners are:

  • Outstanding Public Sector Organization: Orange County Water District and Orange County Sanitation District—Demonstrating a deep commitment to the One Water practice, this public sector partnership created the Groundwater Replenishment System. The recently completed project expansion, which recycles 100% of reclaimable wastewater, produces 130 million gallons of water per day; enough to serve a customer base of more than one million people.
  • Outstanding Private Sector Organization: Rainplan—This online platform empowers each of us to adopt and implement affordable green stormwater solutions tailored to our environments.
  • Outstanding Nonprofit Organization: DigDeep’s Colonias Water Project—DigDeep created and enacted a plan rooted in integration and partnership to provide water access to Cochran in the Texas Colonias by working collaboratively with residents, other local nonprofits, and county officials to create a new model for public-private partnerships. The nonprofit raised money from non-government sources, and once infrastructure was installed, Cochran residents became eligible to apply for state and federal funding to complete additional infrastructure, including streetlights and electricity.
  • Outstanding Cross-Sector Partnership: Corvias Infrastructure Solutions and Prince George’s County, MD: The Clean Water Partnership—The Clean Water Partnership sets the standard for cross-sector collaboration by bringing together 26 entities in the name of improving community water access and sustainability, with a focus on community engagement and workforce support.
  • Outstanding Public Official: Pittsburgh City Councilperson Erika Strassburger—Councilperson Strassburger has been a water champion for the city of Pittsburgh during her tenure, supporting the installation of stormwater solutions in public parks and advocating for policy changes to help prevent water pollution.
  • Outstanding Rising One Water Leader: Rob Woodman—As Ferguson’s National Green Stormwater Solutions Manager, Rob has been an impactful leader and changemaker, focusing on educating and engaging communities and pushing the envelope on stormwater solutions across the country.
  • Outstanding Artist: Maritza Alvarez—Through her filmmaking as part of the Sacred Places Institute for Indigenous Peoples, Maritza has created accessible stories that elevate the water knowledge and experience of Indigenous and other historically silenced communities.
  • Outstanding One Water Communication: waterloop—waterloop is a nonprofit media outlet dedicated to exploring solutions for the nation’s pressing water challenges through its podcasts, videos, and online news content. Founder Travis Loop places a strong emphasis on stories involving advancements in sustainability and equity in water.

Last but certainly not least, during this year’s US Water Prize ceremony, the Alliance is proud to honor recipients of Delaware State University’s Global Water Challenge—a prestigious competition that highlights pioneering projects and ideas aimed at addressing urgent water-related issues. As the only nationally designated EFC with a formalized partnership with an HBCU, this collaboration will be the first of many in an effort to broaden the pool of talent who find belonging in the water workforce and celebrate their contributions to the sector.

The 2023 US Water Prize winners were selected from an extraordinary group of over 75 candidates. Join the conversation and learn more about this year’s candidates on X (formerly Twitter) using the hashtag #USWaterPrize and by mentioning @USWaterAlliance.