Public drinking water utilities honored for management excellence
The Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) has honored four public drinking water systems at its 2021 Executive Management Conference in Denver. Washington, D.C.-based AMWA is an organization of the largest publicly owned drinking water suppliers in the United States.
Denver Water and Knoxville (Tenn.) Utilities Board both received the Sustainable Water Utility Management Award, which recognizes water utilities that have made a commitment to management that achieves a balance of innovative and successful efforts in areas of economic, social and environmental endeavors.
According to AMWA, Denver Water “strives to improve operations and protect its surrounding ecosystems and communities.” Sustainability goals include reducing carbon emissions, improving energy use to maintain net-energy neutrality, to expand renewable energy resources, and improve green infrastructure. Denver Water also has undertaken a 15-year planned effort to replace 64,000 to 84,000 decades-old lead service lines owned by its customers. The utility also partners with government agencies to maintain and improve the burned areas of priority watersheds, including planting more than a million trees.
The Knoxville Utilities Board was honored because it “makes the right investments in its utility systems and develops and promotes environmentally sustainable initiatives within its operations and through its programs.” The utility also participates in Green Invest, the City of Knoxville Mayor’s Climate Council, and the Water Quality Forum to continuously improve its commitment to environmental stewardship and protection of local water sources.
Oklahoma City Water Utilities Trust was awarded the 2021 AMWA Platinum Award for Utility Excellence for meeting the challenges of its growing region by providing quality water, wastewater and solid waste management services to 1.4 million residents. The award-winning utility maintains strong financial policies, cash management and balanced debt. According to AWMA, the utility instituted a continuous improvement program for employment development, and in its first year the program achieved $1.7 million in operational savings from employee led Six Sigma Lean Green Belt projects.
The 2021 Gold Award for Exceptional Utility Performance was given to the Cobb County-Marietta (Ga.) Water Authority, which is one of only a few utilities in the nation that has an organic AAA bond rating from all three major rating agencies and has won multiple awards from the Georgia Association of Water Professionals. As the second largest supplier of drinking water in Georgia, Cobb County-Marietta has worked diligently over the last five years to reduce the number of pipeline failures, energy use, and per-capita consumption of water in its service area, while maintaining a record of zero quality regulatory violations for 11 years.
“AMWA’s 2021 award winners are innovative water systems helmed by visionary executives and committed workforces who create sustainable utilities. In addition to delivering affordable and high-quality water and top-notch customer service, the systems provide exceptional environmental protection and resource management,” said Angela Licata, AMWA president and deputy commissioner of sustainability, New York City Department of Environmental Protection. “These utilities have responded to the many challenges of the last year by serving their communities well and have undoubtedly saved lives.”