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2021 WateReuse Awards for Excellence Showcase Leadership in Advancing Water Recycling

Date: March 22, 2021

The WateReuse Association recognized leaders in water recycling during a March 22 ceremony at the virtual 36th Annual WateReuse Symposium. The 2021 WateReuse Awards for Excellence recognize individuals, projects, and partnerships that have made significant contributions in advancing water reuse as a key component of water resources management. WateReuse Awards for Excellence winners use novel approaches to water reuse to solve water management challenges and advance policies that lead to greater of adoption of water recycling.

“This year’s award recipients showcase the diversity of applications and drivers for using water recycling to create safe and resilient water supplies,” said Patricia Sinicropi, WateReuse Executive Director. “The award recipients are inspiring examples of how water reuse can be the critical component of a water resources management plan that ensures a community has sustainable and locally controlled water supply.”

The WateReuse Awards for Excellence honors leadership in seven categories.

Advocacy Achievement

The Advocacy Achievement award recognizes individuals and organizations for significant achievements in advancing policy, legislation, or regulations that facilitate greater adoption, implementation, or acceptance of recycled water. The 2021 award recipients are:

  • Dan Arnold and Damian Higham (Denver Water) and Brandi Honeycutt and Bret Icenogle (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment): These individuals drove efforts to expandColorado’s Regulation 84 to allow recycled water use for dual plumbing in public buildings and irrigation of edible crops, and allow the creation of requirements specific to local systems.
  • Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC): GWPC is spearheading multiple initiatives to help policymakers understand the opportunities and challenges of recycling “produced water” from oil and gas operations, including expert reports, educational opportunities for regulators, and a risk based data management system for state decision makers.
  • Lynn Spivey (Florida Potable Reuse Commission): As chair of the Florida Potable Reuse Commission, City of Plant City, Florida’s Utilities Director Lynn Spivey led an effort to promote potable reuse in Florida and establish rules for its implementation, including the publication of a stakeholder report and the inclusion of potable reuse in Florida’s 2020 legislative omnibus water bill.

Community Water Champion

The Community Water Champion award recognizes the accomplishments of utilities and local government entities that ensure a safe, reliable, locally-controlled water supply. The 2021 award recipients are:

  • City of Pompano Beach Reuse Plant: Pompano Beach serves 1,000 single-family residential homes and over 300 commercial and multi-family properties, and is also the first and only water reuse system in Florida approved to irrigate salad crops that will not be peeled, skinned, cooked or thermally processed.
  • OneWater Nevada: A collaborative partnership between utilities, academics, and professional practitioners, OneWater completed the first advanced purified water groundwater injection demonstration project in Nevada and is providing northern Nevada the invaluable benefits of data, public education, and local design and operations expertise to utilize water reuse for the region’s long-term sustainability.
  • Tucson Water: Through its Santa Cruz River Heritage Project, Tucson Water sends up to 2.8 million gallons of recycled water per day into a formerly dry section of the Santa Cruz River. The project’s benefits include development of urban riparian habitat, the return of native plant species and endangered wildlife, and recharge of the underlying aquifer through natural filtration processes.

Excellence in Action

The Excellence in Action award recognizes community leaders that demonstrate a commitment to water resiliency through the innovative use of recycled water. The 2021 award recipients are:

  • SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park (West Basin Municipal Water District): The West Basin Municipal Water District provides recycled water to irrigate all outdoor landscaping areas at the Inglewood, CA home of two NFL teams, the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers. The project is expected to offset potable water demands in the region by 26 million gallons per day.
  • SUEZ – Nassau County Wastewater Treatment Plants: Suez, manager of three wastewater treatment plants in this Long Island, NY community, has introduced water reuse systems to support plant operations, reducing water usage by about 86% at one facility.
  • Vallecitos Water District/LG Sonic Technology: The Vallecitos Water District is using a new ultrasound technology to maintain water quality in its 54 million gallon recycled water storage reservoir to predict and control algal bloom. The system reduces costs and the need for harsh chemicals.

Outreach and Engagement

The Outreach and Education award recognizes significant success in advancing public acceptance of recycled water. The 2021 award recipients are:

  • Irvine Ranch Water District (IRWD): IRWD took its outreach to the Irvine, CA community to a new level with a Recycled Water 101 campaign featuring five effective tools: a video, a speaker’s series, a community workshop, a media tour, and a steady stream of print and digital articles, including social media posts.
  • Pinellas County Utilities: The South Cross Bayou Water Reclamation Facility in St. Petersburg, FL partners with schools to provide facility tours, classroom teach-ins, teacher trainings, and educator resources for over 40,000 students each year.

Transformative Innovation

The Transformative Innovation award recognizes technological advances, research breakthroughs, and innovative practices that advance the adoption, implementation, or public acceptance of recycled water. The 2021 award recipients are:

  • Hyperion Membrane Bioreactor Pilot Facility Project (City of Los Angeles, LA Sanitation): This project represents a major step in expanding water reuse in Los Angeles to meet the objective of sourcing 70 percent of the city’s water supply locally by the year 2035. The project will allow Los Angeles to develop design criteria, validate and establish treatment goals, and obtain regulatory approval.
  • JEA: This utility, which serves the Jacksonville, FL region, proactively embarked on a phased project investigating potable reuse to meet future water demands. After testing multiple treatment options at two different treatment plants, JEA is poised for demonstration-scale testing followed by full-scale implementation.
  • Las Virgenes – Triunfo Joint Powers Authority: ThisCalabasas, CA facility is paving the way for one of the first potable reuse projects using reservoir augmentation in California. The groundbreaking demonstration facility includes a sustainability garden, a mural, and a virtual tour to make it all available during and beyond the pandemic.

Up and Comer

The Up and Comer award recognizes a professional with less than 10 years of experience in the recycled water industry for leadership in the industry and commitment to pursuing water recycling as a career path. The 2021 award recipient is:

  • Lydia Peri (Truckee Meadows Water Authority):  Lydia Peri is the demonstration manager for the OneWater Nevada initiative, serving as the pivotal link between agencies, operators, students, regulators, technology providers, and elected officials. 

President’s Award

The President’s award recognizes individuals who have significantly contributed to the advancement of water reuse through exceptional service and leadership. This award is given at the discretion of the WateReuse Association President. The 2021 award recipients are:

  • Congresswoman Grace Napolitano (D-CA): Representative Napolitano has been a champion for federal funding for water recycling programs throughout her career in Congress.
  • Diane Taniguchi-Dennis, CEO, Clean Water Services: Under Taniguchi-Dennis’ leadership, Clean Water Services has been a leader in water recycling for environmental restoration and pioneered the practice of brewing beer with purified recycled water as a tool for education. Diane completed three terms on the WateReuse Association Board of Directors, serving on the Executive Committee as the organization’s Treasurer.
  • Mark Elsner, P.E., Water Supply Bureau Chief, South Florida Water Management District: For over 30 years, Elsner has been instrumental in growing water reuse in Florida, from development of the first comprehensive reuse regulations in the late 1980’s to completion of the 2020 report, Framework for the Implementation of Potable Reuse in Florida.
  • Paul Steinbrecher, Clay County Utility Authority: Paul Steinbrecher has served the clean water industry for over 30 years, championing sustainable solutions to environmental and engineering problems. Paul served on the WateReuse Association Board of Directors and was a consistent voice for local water reuse projects.
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