News Release

Water Authority Earns National Award for Sustainable Management

Agency recognized for innovation, leadership in resource, environmental and fiscal practices
October 17, 2016

The San Diego County Water Authority today received a top national award from the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) for its commitment to improving the region’s water supply reliability in a manner that balances economic, social and environmental needs.

AMWA honored the Water Authority with its Sustainable Water Utility Management Award at the organization’s national 2016 Executive Management Conference, held today in Scottsdale, Ariz. The association praised the Water Authority for its track record of consistently executing programs, projects and policies that responsibly and effectively meet the long-term water needs of the communities it serves.

“San Diego County Water Authority’s sustainability mindset saves ratepayers money, reduces the environmental impacts of projects and operations, conserves energy and water, and helps the agency thrive in a changing climate,” AMWA stated in its announcement of the award.

“This honor further affirms the Water Authority’s strategic approach to serving its 24 member agencies, our region’s 3.3 million people and a $222 billion economy as a national model,” said Mark Muir, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “AMWA’s award is wonderful recognition of all the hard work that the Water Authority’s Board, management and staff put in to ensuring this agency achieves its mission to enhance the reliability of our region’s water supply with a high level of excellence and civic responsibility.”

The Water Authority was one of only five agencies in the country to win the Sustainable Utility Management Award this year. The other agencies were the city of San Diego Public Utilities Department, DC Water (District of Columbia), Louisville Water Company (Kentucky) and Western Virginia Water Authority.

The San Diego County Water Authority has now earned all three of AMWA’s top utility management awards. In 2013, the Water Authority received a Platinum Award for Utility Excellence, and it earned the Gold Award for Exceptional Utility Performance in 2010.

AMWA’s Sustainable Water Utility Management Award acknowledges forward-thinking leadership in areas such: as environmental stewardship; financial forecasting; water supply; collaboration and partnerships; energy production and efficiency; internal and facility operations; public outreach and involvement; and social responsibility. The award noted the significance of several major accomplishments the Water Authority realized in 2014 and 2015, including the adoption of its Climate Action Plan, the completion of the San Vicente Dam Raise as the final major component of the agency’s $1.5 billion Emergency Storage Project, and the start of operations at the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant.

Other recent Water Authority achievements or initiatives that demonstrate the agency’s leadership in sustainable utility management practices include:

  • Developing long-term financial policies that in 2016 earned the agency an upgraded senior lien credit rating of AAA from S&P Global Ratings.
  • Crafting a 2015 Long Range Financing Plan that provides a solid foundation for building and operating infrastructure over many years, including the Water Authority’s $528 million Capital Improvement Program through 2026.
  • Promoting the WaterSmart brand for advancing long-term water-use efficiency inside and outside the home.
  • Executing a diversified approach to promoting water conservation and efficiency, including legislation, education and technical assistance programs, that helped reduce regional per capita water use by nearly 40 percent between 1990 and 2015.
  • Creating a Natural Community Conservation Plan/Habitat Conservation Plan that helps guide the Water Authority’s planning in an environmentally sensitive manner and is integral to the mitigation of impacts from major capital projects.
  • Saving money through effective partnerships with federal, state, local and private organizations that resulted in more than $7.7 million in grant procurements for fiscal year 2012 through fiscal year 2017, including awards from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, San Diego Gas & Electric and the Hans and Margaret Doe Charitable Trust.
  • Pursuing innovative water-saving projects such as the Coachella and All-American canal linings.
  • Pioneering efficient techniques for performing day-to-day tasks, pipeline monitoring and equipment maintenance.
  • Carrying out innovative public outreach, including school education programs and the award-winning Citizens Water Academy.

AMWA is an organization of the largest publicly owned drinking water suppliers in the country. Its members serve more than 130 million Americans from Alaska to Puerto Rico. For more information about AMWA’s awards, go to http://www.amwa.net/awards.

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