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WateReuse Award Winners 2024

Award Recipients

See the winners and view submitted videos below.

Advocacy Achievement

Craig Miller, Western Municipal Water District, CA

With over 30 years of public service, Craig Miller has embodied a vision for sustainable water solutions. Craig has facilitated partnerships across the state, including the Western Water Recycling Facility, Groundwater Replenishment System, West Riverside County Regional Wastewater Authority, Santa Rosa Regional Reclamation Facility, Santa Ana River Conservation and Conjunctive Use Program, Groundwater Recharge Program, and the Prado Wetlands. In 2022-2023, Craig advanced a vision to transform California’s water management by spearheading Solve the Water Crisis, a coalition of water agencies statewide across sectors— calling on policymakers to secure the State’s water future. Through Craig’s leadership, the coalition achieved alignment among water managers, engagement from community partners, a shift in statewide messaging, and a consensus on a legislative solution through California Senate Bill 366 (Caballero). 

WateReuse Texas State Section

During the legislative session in 2023, WateReuse Texas collaborated with Texas Senator Charles Perry’s office, National Wildlife Federation, and others to pass a bill directing the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to create a regulatory pathway to onsite treatment and reuse of blackwater. Previously, the owner of an onsite reuse system was required to hold a wastewater treatment permit, impeding the adoption of onsite reuse. WateReuse Texas and collaborators advocated for the bill’s passage by registering support, participating in legislative hearings, identifying stakeholder support, and removing other roadblocks during the process. The legislation is expected to result in more onsite water reuse systems in Texas, including in areas that aren’t otherwise served by recycled water. During the 2023 legislative session, WateReuse Texas and collaborators also spearheaded the Water Infrastructure Coalition one-pager, and advocated for full funding of the State Revolving Funds in 2024.

Daniel K. Nix, City of Wichita Falls, TX

When drought struck northern Texas in the early 2010’s, Daniel Nix led the successful implementation of an emergency direct potable reuse system for the City of Wichita Falls. Since then, he has been instrumental in leading the city’s implementation of indirect potable reuse, providing a sustainable strategy for augmentation of their surface water supply. Daniel is now leading a project with Freese and Nichols to study log removal values in membrane plants, the the only study of its kind performed on a full-scale reverse osmosis plant. Daniel’s commitment to advancing the implementation and acceptance of recycled water is exemplified by the countless hours he has volunteered to help utilities, regulators, and other stakeholders understand the potential of potable reuse as a safe and effective water management strategy. As a utility manager, Daniel has also been a strong advocate for developing water reuse operator training materials.

John Rehring, Carollo Engineers

John Rehring served as the national representative for WateReuse Colorado and was the section’s first president upon its formation in 2008. John played an integral role in two direct potable reuse demonstrations in Colorado and has become an industry leader in advocating for potable reuse. In 2021, John and his team from Carollo Engineers worked closely with Colorado Springs Utilities and other partners to create the 2021 PureWater Colorado Mobile Direct Potable Reuse demonstration. John was integral in both engineering design and public outreach planning for the demonstration. At the same time, John contributed significantly to the development of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s groundbreaking direct potable reuse regulations, completed in late 2022. He served on several working groups including the communications subgroup.

Community Water Champions

City of Pompano Beach OASIS Reuse Utility, FL

The OASIS (Our Alternative Supply Irrigation System) reuse water program has been preserving regional water supplies for thirty years. The program’s innovative approach to water management has helped to ensure the availability of safe and reliable water supplies. Pompano Beach residents have enjoyed additional benefits of using non-potable reclaimed water for irrigation: homeowners can reduce fertilizer use on their landscaping, and the program has reduced amount of wastewater that would be discharged, protecting local waterways.

Orange County Water District and Orange County Sanitation District, CA

The Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS), the world’s largest indirect potable reuse facility, is a joint project of two WateReuse members: Orange County Water District (OCWD) and Orange County Sanitation District (OC San). Since its inception in 2008, it has produced more than 400 billion gallons of water and counting. In early 2023, a final expansion of GWRS was completed, upping its total to 130 million gallons per day: enough water for 1 million people. The project also enabled 100% of OC San’s reclaimable wastewater flows to be recycled for the first time. By producing more water, the GWRS provides a drought-resilient supply, benefiting not only the Orange County region but all of California. The GWRS has garnered global attention, becoming one of the most studied civil engineering and water recycling projects in the world. Through the constant collaboration of OCWD and OC San, the system has helped communities worldwide overcome the technical and public challenges associated with water reuse while bringing water reliability and resilience to Orange County residents and businesses.

Excellence in Action

Inland Empire Utilities Agency, CA

The Inland Empire Utilities Agency (IEUA) has a mission to supply supplemental water to the region purchased from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, provide regional wastewater treatment, produce high quality renewable products such as recycled water, compost, and energy, and promote the sustainable use of groundwater.

Through the combination of new partnerships and cutting-edge technology, IEUA plans to maximize the use of recycled water supplies. In 2022, IEUA established a recycled water purchase agreement with the city of Rialto to expand the region’s recycled water supply and continues to invest in the Chino Basin Groundwater Recharge Program to provide necessary water resources to the region. Dating back to the 1970s, IEUA has remained at the forefront of innovation to increase and store recycled water supplies within the region while leading the way in water resource management.

Outreach and Education

Eastern Municipal Water District, CA

As a national leader in recycled water, Southern California’s Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) has incorporated recycled water into its outreach and education campaigns as part of a longstanding effort to integrate water reuse into the community’s water supplies. EMWD has long been regarded as one of the nation’s premier recycled water providers. EMWD has spent many years promoting the importance of recycled water to gain and sustain public acceptance and to support the necessary investments to continue expanding its infrastructure. The result is widespread public support for recycled water use in the community, as well as tens of millions of dollars in external funding that will further shape the future of its programming.

Water Replenishment District’s External Affairs Department, CA

Water Replenishment District’s External Affairs Department, CA The Water Replenishment District (WRD) is a groundwater management agency responsible for the groundwater resources in southern Los Angeles County. During the past six decades of service, WRD ushered in a sustainable water supply for groundwater replenishment using only stormwater and recycled water to recharge around 220,000 acre-feet annually. WRD’s work has created drought resiliency for the region as groundwater supplies are no longer dependent on imported water. The Albert Robles Center (ARC) is WRD’s flagship facility and is home to an advanced water purification plant, a museum-grade learning center, and a green infrastructure demonstration garden. ARC provides educational opportunities for a diverse set of audiences throughout the WRD service area, the region, and the nation. This is exemplified by WRD’s investment in 40 bilingual exhibits which focus on the topics of groundwater, recycled water, and water conservation. The ARC Education Program connects with thousands of visitors each year, including a robust K-12 Field Trip Program, a water stakeholder and legislative tour program, community-focused tours, and Eco Gardener classes.

Transformational Innovation

Loxahatchee River Environmental Control District, FL

The Loxahatchee River Environmental Control District and its research partners published a long-term research project in South Florida that showed the fate of nutrients in reclaimed water through treatment, storage, distribution, and application. This 12-year study revealed that significant reductions in nutrient concentrations occurred when reclaimed water used for landscape irrigation moved through a combination of traditional treatment and green infrastructure. Sequentially moving reclaimed water through the water reclamation facility, storage features, and transmission system provided a cost and energy-efficient option that achieved nutrient reductions similar to advanced wastewater treatment. Landscape irrigation with this reclaimed water for over 20 years has not caused eutrophication of downstream surface waters.

Palm Beach County Water Utilities Department, FL & CDM Smith

Palm Beach County Water Utilities Department completed Phase 1 of the Green Cay Nature Center and Wetlands in 2004. Since then, the natural wetland treatment step has helped to clean 11 billion gallons of water, and the nature center has welcomed 1.3 million annual visitors. Now, the utility will begin construction of the Green Cay Phase 2 progressive design-build project. The project will help replenish local water resources, and could become one of the first projects permitted under Florida’s proposed potable reuse rules. The Green Cay Pilot Test demonstrated breakpoint chlorination as an effective solution to meet the Class III surface water quality standard for ammonia, and demonstrated virus monitoring and removal through an innovative field qPCR method. Pioneering water reuse projects such as the Green Cay Phase 2 will mark an important step in defining sustainable water resources for the future.

Up & Comer

Susheera Pochiraju, PhD, Hazen and Sawyer

Susheera is an engineer for Hazen & Sawyer based in Colorado, and the current president of WateReuse Colorado. She has volunteered for the WateReuse Colorado State Section since 2021, playing a key role in several WateReuse Colorado activities including planning the 2023 section conference. With over five years of industry experience, Susheera has conducted research on water treatment optimization and designed advanced treatment processes. Her work includes designing plant processes such as ultraviolet disinfection at a water reclamation facility for aquifer recharge, evaluating the removal of contaminents of emerging concern across a carbon-based reuse pilot, and working on a full-scale advanced water treatment facility design. She has also published her research on bioassays for wastewater effluents that can be used for toxicological analyses in reuse. Susheera was featured in NPR affiliate KUNC’s 2023 article on direct potable reuse in Colorado, where she adressed the increase in public acceptance of water reuse.

WateReuse President’s Award 2024

Michael R. Markus

Mike Markus concluded his distinguished tenure as general manager of the Orange County Water District (OCWD) in January 2024. Renowned for his visionary leadership in water resource management, Mike’s career at OCWD spanned 35 years. A highlight of his tenure was overseeing the construction and successful implementation of the Groundwater Replenishment System, the largest potable reuse project of its kind. Beyond his role at OCWD, Mike has been a pivotal figure in the water industry, holding various leadership positions. He has been a leading advocate for water reuse, playing a critical role in raising awareness and garnering support for projects worldwide.

WateReuse Award Winners 2022

WateReuse is the only trade association that focuses solely on advancing laws, policy and funding to increase water reuse. Our niche strategy sets us apart from other organizations in the water industry.

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