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California Awards of Excellence

Each year, WateReuse California recognizes agencies, customers, and individuals that have demonstrated exceptional leadership in advancing water recycling in California. The membership nominates potential award winners each year and awards are presented during a ceremony at the Annual Conference.

2023 Awards Nominations Now Open

Deadline: August 15, 2023

Awards will be presented at the 2023 WateReuse California Conference, November 5-7 in Indian Wells.

Award Categories

Please review the following award descriptions before submitting a nomination.

Bahman Sheikh Award for Vision in Water Reuse

Dr. Bahman Sheikh

The Bahman Sheikh Award for Vision in Water Reuse is awarded to a municipal, industrial, or agricultural sector individual or select group that significantly advances reuse in California by identifying new opportunities to reuse water, expanding existing applications, and/or amplifying the benefits of water recycling through integrated regional planning. This award highlights the importance of understanding the value of recycled water as the cornerstone of a resilient, sustainable, local water supply, and recognizes those who share their vision of reuse in order to create innovative and inspiring programs.

Recycled Water Agency of the Year

These three awards recognize agencies that have developed recycled water, on a significant level, as an alternative water source within their service area, regionally, or statewide. The recipients will have demonstrated leadership, creativity and persistence in developing a comprehensive program, as well as outreach to the community to expand awareness and implementation of water recycling. 

  • Small – beneficial reuse less than 1,000 AFY
  • Medium – beneficial reuse between 1,000 and 5,000 AFY
  • Large – beneficial reuse greater than 5,000 AFY

Recycled Water Outreach/ Education Program

This award pays tribute to an agency that demonstrates a significant and wide-reaching community outreach and/or public education program that informs the community about the presence and benefits of recycled water as an alternative water source. The recipient will have demonstrated leadership, creativity, and persistence in developing a comprehensive community outreach/public education program.  In addition, the recipient will have demonstrated how the program has garnered an enhanced appreciation, support, promotion, and use of recycled water on a local or regional level. 

Paula Kehoe and Taylor Nokhoudian of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission were two of the 2019 winners for Advocate of the Year.

Recycled Water Advocate of the Year

This award honors an individual, interagency coalition, or private group who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of water recycling through the active support and promotion of recycled water on a local, regional, or state level. The recipient will have demonstrated outstanding leadership, and dedication to the promotion and use of recycled water beyond what would be professionally expected. 

Recycled Water Customer of the Year

This award recognizes a recycled water user (customer) who has advanced the acceptance of water reuse through unique applications of recycled water and/or innovative marketing.  The recipient will be a high profile customer that has demonstrated how recycled water benefits the public and contributes to its business services.

Recycled Water Staff Person of the Year

This award recognizes an individual that works in operations, customer service, maintenance, engineering or other department related to an agency’s recycled water program and who has shown a dedication to the success of their program. This individual may have contributed an innovative solution to a problem, gone beyond routine job requirements, persevered through some difficulties, or achieved some other extraordinary success with the recycled water program

Past Winners

Past Award Winners

Agency of the Year – Small

2022: West Bay Sanitary District
2021: City of Healdsburg Water Reclamation Facility
2020: City of Oceanside
2019: City of Malibu
2018: Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians
2017: City of American Canyon
2016: El Toro Water District
2015: City of San Clemente
2014: Sonoma Valley County Sanitation District
2013: Rowland Water District
2012: Town of Windsor
2008: City of Redwood City & South Bayside System Authority
2005: Olivenhain Municipal Water District
2004: City of Gilroy

Agency of the Year – Medium

2022: San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
2021: City of Ukiah
2019: Olivenhain Municipal Water District
2018: Monterey Peninsula Water Management District; Monterey One Water
2017: Padre Dam Municipal Water District; Helix Water District; City of El Cajon and County of San Diego (East County Advanced Water Purification Program)
2016: San Elijo Joint Powers Authority
2015: Rincon del Diablo Municipal Water District
2014: City of Santa Clara
2013: Ventura Water
2012: Town of Windsor and San Jose Water Company
2011: Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District
2010: Padre Dam Municipal Water District and Helix Water District
2009: Vallecitos Water District
2008: Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District
2007: DSRSD * EBMUD Recycled Water Authority
2006: Carlsbad Municipal Water District

Agency of the Year – Large

2022: Santa Margarita Water District
2021: Terminal Island Water Reclamation Plant
2020: Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP)
2019: Water Replenishment District of Southern California
2018: City of Modesto; City of Turlock; Del Puerto Water District
2017: Eastern Municipal Water District
2016: Orange County Water District & Orange County Sanitation District
2015: Irvine Ranch Water District
2014: Santa Clara Valley Water District
2013: Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County
2012: The Water Replenishment District of Southern California
2011: Inland Empire Utilities Agency
2010: Eastern Municipal Water District
2009: The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
2008: Orange County Water District
2007: Otay Water District
2006: West Basin Municipal Water District
2005: El Dorado Irrigation District
2004: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Public Education / Community Outreach Program

2022: Olivenhain Municipal Water District
2021: City of Oceanside
2020: Irvine Ranch Water District
2019: Central Coast Blue
2018: East County Advance Water Purification Program
2017: Pure Water Monterey
2016: LADWP – K12 Recycled Water Outreach Program; Santa Clara Valley Water District’s Pure Water Silicon Valley Outreach Program
2015: Dublin San Ramon Services District’s Residential Recycled Water Fill Station
2014: Pure Water San Diego
2013: Vallecitos Water District
2012: City of Los Angeles Recycled Water Outreach Program
2011: City of Fresno’s Recycled Water Public Outreach Program
2010: West Basin Municipal Water District’s Edward C. Little Water Recycling Facility
2009: Central Basin Municipal Water District’s Water Squad Investigations Program
2008: Wastewater Treatment for All Curious Beings
2007: West Basin Municipal Water District
2006: Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District
2005: Orange County Water District and Orange County Sanitation District

Customer of the Year

2022: Valero Wilmington Refinery; CoCo San Sustainable Farm
2021: Forest Lawn Memorial Parks
2020: Dominguez Technology Center; County of San Diego Parks and Recreation; Monterey County Water Resources Agency
2019: San Jose State University
2018: Marine Corps Air Station Miramar
2017: City of Dublin; Lake Mission Viejo Association; Rose Hills Memorial Park
2016: Corona-Norco Unified School District; Infomart Data Centers; San Jose State University
2015: City of Lake Forest; San Diego Gas & Electric; Citizens Business Bank Arena
2014: Gibson Ranch; Napa-Sonoma Salt Marsh Restoration Project, Tuftex Carpet Mill
2013: Vallecitos Water District, The City of Lake Elsninore, Orange County Produce
2012: Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine, Dupont Fabros Technology, Inc, Scott Brothers Dairy/Bruce Scott and Southern California Edison
2011: Valley-Wide Recreation & Park District
2010: Biogen Idec
2009: Loyola Marymount University & Richard’s Grove and Saralee’s Vineyard, Inc.
2008: Hotel Sofitel, San Francisco Bay Pharmingen and Quail Botanical Gardens
2007: Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation
2006: Los Angelese Air Force Base
2005: City of Inglewood
2004: Toyota Motor Sales, USA

Staff Person of the Year

2022: Joyce Lehman, Principal Engineer/Interim Team Manager, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
2021: Ben Smith, Senior Engineer, Orange County Water District
2020: John Carroll of the City of San Diego
2019: Bob Holden
2018: Elzbieta (Ela) Karczewski, Carlsbad Municipal Water District; Pedro Hernandez, South Bay Water Recycling Program
2017: Roshanak Aflaki, City of Los Angeles, LA Sanitation; Brent Eidson, City of San Diego Public Utilities Department
2016: Stefani Olson, Dublin San Ramon Services District
2015: Ray Mokhtari, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
2014: Daniel Rydberg
2013: John Wuerth, Eastern Municipal Water District
2012: Bill Dunivin, OCWD
2011: Jeffrey Seifert, City of Escondido
2010: Larry Olds, Otay Water District
2009: Linda Hu, East Bay Municipal Utility District
2008: Dennis White, City of Corona

Advocate of the Year

2022: Cari Dale, Water Utilities Director, City of Oceanside
2021: Jesus Gonzalez , LADWP
2020: Alexander R. Coate of EBMUD & David W. Pedersen of Las Virgenes Municipal Water
2019: Paula Kehoe, Taylor Chang, Toby Roy
2018: Michael Wehner, Orange County Water District
2017: Patricia Tennyson, Katz & Associates
2016: John Robinson
2015: Kimberly Thorner, Olivenhain Municipal Water District
2014: Earle Hartling
2013: Elliot Lepler MD and Cindy Russell MD
2012: Marsi Steirer, City of San Diego Public Utilities Department
2011: Robb Whitaker, Water Replenishment District of Southern California
2010: Robert Castle, Marin Municipal Water District
2009: Richard Nagel, West Basin Municipal Water & Keith Lewinger, Fallbrook Public Utility District
2008: Mary Grace Pawson, Winzler & Kelly
2007: Timothy Jochem, Upper San Gabriel Valley MWD
2006: Frances Spivy-Weber & Bill Jacoby
2005: Margaret Nellor
2004: Daniel Gallagher, General Manager of Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authorit

Co-Chair Recognition Awards

2018: Dave Hix
2016: Jennifer Burke, Sanjay Reddy and Barry Dugan
2015: Monica Gasca and Raymond Jay
2014: Jason Dadakis, Shivaji Deshmukh, Mark Tettemer
2013: Curtis Lam
2012: Ron Crites, Elizabeth Wells, Dave Richardson, Jim Rasmus, Colin Moy, Richard Harris, Toni Pezzetti, Dawn Taffler
2011: Jason Dadakis, Mike Dunbar, Scott Goldman, Kirsten McLaughlin, Mark Tettemer, Eleanor Torres
2010: David Ahles, James Strayer, James Rasmus, Maria Mariscal
2009: Paula Kehoe, Eric Hansen, Pam John, Dawn Taffler
2008: Paul Jones, Shivaji Deshmukh, Kirsten McLaughlin
2007: Mark Beuhler, Tom Love
2006: Melanie Richardson & Dan Lopez
2005: Harold Bailey and Paul Findley
2004: Suja Lowenthal

Presidents Award

2022: Dr. Rhodes Trussell
2021: Mike Markus
2020: Paul Jones
2019: John Robinson
2017: Jim Crook, Adam Olivieri
2016: Ron Wildermuth
2015: Dave Smith
2013: Mary Grace Pawson, Paul Jones, Mike Markus, Richard Nagel
2012: Mark Tettemer, Irvine Ranch Water District
2011: Richard Harris
2010: 6 Awards Given to Mayors and 14 to IPR recipients
2009: Harold Bailey and Dan Carlson

Lifetime Achievement Awards

2022: George Tchobanoglous, PhD, PE, NAE, BCEE
2021: (Posthumous) Bahman Sheikh
2019: Paul Klein
2016: Bob Whitley
2014: Dave Requa
2012: Satoru Tamaribuchi, The Irvine Company

Bahman Sheikh Award for Vision in Water Reuse

2022: Andy Salveson, Vice President, Water Reuse Chief Technologist, Carollo Engineers
2021: Felicia Marcus

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