2019 US Water Prize Winners
Outstanding Cross-Sector Partnership
The Camden SMART Initiative—Stormwater Management and Resource Training
Camden SMART is a community-driven initiative helping the City of Camden tackle its extreme water challenges through innovative, dynamic collaboration on green infrastructure projects. A coalition of six entities – Cooper’s Ferry Partnership, the City of Camden, Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority, Rutgers Cooperative Extension Water Resources Program, New Jersey Tree Foundation, and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection – the Camden SMART Initiative is dedicated to upgrading the city’s water systems, remediating the effects of increasing impervious cover on the region’s waterways, and engaging community members in climate resiliency efforts. Benefits to the city include less neighborhood flooding and fewer combined sewer overflows, new sustainable green jobs, improved air and water quality, increased property values, greater economic development opportunities, more recreational amenities and open space, and beautified neighborhoods.
Outstanding Public Sector Organization
The City of Cedar Rapids—Middle Cedar Partnership Project
Led by the City of Cedar Rapids and launched in 2015, the Middle Cedar Partnership Project (MCPP) is a five-year collaboration between downstream water users, upstream conservation entities, and local farmers. The Project focuses on three objectives: developing watershed plans, implementing Best Management Practices, and conducting outreach. By guiding implementation of watershed improvement plans, developing contracts with farmers and landowners that promote soil and water conservation, and educating stakeholders on the need for holistic water management, MCPP is promoting improved water quality, water quantity, and soil health throughout the Middle Cedar Watershed.
Outstanding Nonprofit Organization
EJ Water Cooperative—Water and Fiber for Rural Communities
As a nonprofit with a cooperative model and 30 years’ experience serving rural populations, EJ Water’s goal is to help address the access challenges facing rural communities. Understanding that residents in their service area struggle with internet bandwidth as well as access to safe, reliable water, EJ Water developed the Illinois Fiber Connect Project – becoming the first water utility in the country to lay fiber and water lines in the same trench. This Project reduces two-thirds of the cost for telecom installation and allows smart meters to provide live data. This innovative strategy serves to benefit communities by increasing leak detection and saving members money, as well as by improving internet speed.
Outstanding Public Official
Eric Garcetti—Mayor of Los Angeles, California
As the 42nd and current Mayor of Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti has worked tirelessly to secure the reliability and sustainability of the city’s water future. As a One Water champion, Mayor Garcetti announced that Los Angeles will recycle 100 percent of its available wastewater for beneficial reuse by 2035, released the City’s first-ever Sustainable City Plan (pLAn), and signed Executive Directive 5 designed to make Los Angeles a more “Water-Wise City.” Under Mayor Garcetti’s leadership, Los Angeles has already achieved several water sustainability goals, including replacing 95 miles of water pipe infrastructure and reducing per capita water use by 20 percent.
Outstanding Journalism on the Value of Water
Great Lakes Team, APM Reports—“So Close, Yet So Costly” Report
The “So Close, Yet So Costly” project – developed by The Water Main in partnership with APM Reports, Great Lakes Today, and NPR – explores rising drinking water prices in the Great Lakes Region. Over the course of a nine-month investigation, the team examined the cost of water in the six largest cities near the Great Lakes over the past 10 years and found that rates have risen alarmingly fast and that costs are considerably higher than water scarce cities. The story, told online and on air, highlighted the hidden realities and human costs of America’s water infrastructure crisis and is sparking new conversations spotlighting those on the frontlines of tackling water affordability issues.
Outstanding Private Sector Organization
Greenprint Partners—Well Farm at Voris Field
As a green infrastructure delivery partner, one of Greenprint Partners’ key goals is to pioneer green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) solutions that maximize benefits to the local community, and engage residents in design, construction, and maintenance. Greenprint Partners’ idea to pursue an urban farm resulted in the development of the Well Farm, one of the first “stormwater farms” in the country. Located in the south side of Peoria, Illinois, one of the 100 poorest zip codes in the nation, Well Farm reduces stormwater pollution, supports an Urban Agriculture Apprenticeship Program, and produces locally-grown timber, flowers, and food.