U.S. Water Prize Awarded to Onondaga County for the Save the Rain Program

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(Washington, D.C.) February 26, Along the Reflecting Pool between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, the U.S. Water Alliance announced the 2013 winners of the coveted U.S. Water Prize: Onondaga County, NY, for its program to “Save the Rain” and embrace green infrastructure solutions to wet weather problems; The Freshwater Trust for its collaborative market-based solutions to restore and protect rivers and streams; and, MillerCoors for their innovative and comprehensive strategies to protect and conserve water throughout its life cycle. “Our 2013 U.S. Water Prize winners are leading the way, from East to West and all points in between, on the value of water and the power of innovating and integrating for one water sustainability,” boasts Alliance President Ben Grumbles. “Our champions are showing how to save the rain, clean the stream, and grow with care, up and down the supply chain throughout the water cycle.”

The three winners will be honored on Earth Day, Monday, April 22, 2013, in Grosvenor Auditorium at National Geographic headquarters in Washington D.C. “Our 3 winners reflect America’s spirit of diversity, creativity, and collaboration,” explains Dick Champion, chair of the U.S. Water Alliance. “These are the best in public, private, and nongovernmental sectors. It’s fitting that we honor them at National Geographic, itself known for public education of natural resources. We intend to elevate, celebrate and educate the public about these good stewards for the blue planet’s most precious resource.” More than 300 Water leaders from the federal, state, and municipal level are anticipated to participate in the distinguished ceremony.

The nominations were reviewed by an independent panel of judges including some of the most respected names in the water and environmental sector: Rich Anderson, Senior Advisor for the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Water Council; Veronica Blette, Chief of the WaterSense Branch, EPA Office of Wastewater Management; Monica Ellis, CEO of the Global Environment & Technology Foundation; Jody Freeman, Archibald Cox Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and founding director of its Environmental Law and Policy Program; and Jim Ziglar, Senior Counsel at Van Ness Feldman Law Firm and former Assistant Secretary of Interior and Commissioner of the IRS.

The U.S. Water Prize, first launched in 2011, is organized and administered by the U.S. Water Alliance. Through the prize, the national non-profit underscores the value of water and the need for one water integration, innovation, and collaboration among environmental, business, utility, and community leaders. Sharing these goals, several corporate sponsors are joining together including, to-date: CH2M HILL, Veolia North America, ARCADIS, CDM Smith, and MWH-Global.

DESCRIPTION OF AWARDEES

Onondaga County, New York

Onondaga County received the U.S. Water Prize for its Save the Rain program, a combined sewer overflow (CSO) abatement/water quality program focused on balancing the use of conventional wastewater/stormwater treatment technologies, with advanced, innovative green infrastructure best management practices.

Rather than advance a costly project ($100 million estimated), County Executive, Joanie Mahoney joined with USEPA and New York State to petition the federal courts to change course and establish a new, more affordable and sustainable CSO abatement program. As a result, the Save the Rain program was born in November of 2009. Federal Justice Frederick Scullin approved a CSO abatement program that allowed the County to change course and advance a program that balanced the use of wet weather storage as well as a requirement to use green infrastructure. It was the first settlement of its kind in the nation to endorse and require green infrastructure as a stormwater management solution.

View the full press release from U.S. Water Alliance

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