Water Star Award

The Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE) Water Star Award is an award intended to recognize individual excellence in water efficiency.

AWE wishes to celebrate the “unsung hero”, the quiet water conservation practitioner working in the trenches who makes a huge difference by their dedication, passion, and progressive approaches to move forward our field.

Water Star award winners receive this recognition not because they apply for the award, but because their peers around them recognize the value of their significant contribution and achievements over time and their quiet dedication to the cause.

In 2023, the Water Star Award will be chosen from submissions made by AWE members. Nomination forms and more details about the 2023 Member-Nominated AWE Awards can be found here.

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2022 – Kevin Reidy, Colorado Water Conservation Board

Congratulations to Kevin Reidy, Colorado Water Conservation Board

Recipient of the 2022 AWE Water Star Award

The Alliance for Water Efficiency is proud to present its 2022 Water Star Award to Kevin Reidy.

Kevin received his Bachelor of Science from Colorado State University in Recreation Resources Management and a M.S. degree in Forest Ecology and Management from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

In between he served in the Peace Corps in Honduras, Central America working in Pico Bonito National Park. During graduate school, he focused on social and cultural aspects of forest management and conducted his master’s thesis research in Colorado, surveying landowners on their knowledge of and orientation to wildfire mitigation education and practices.

Kevin worked for Aurora Water for 7 years as the Water Conservation Supervisor overseeing all aspects of the water conservation division--grew from 2 to 13 staff and from $150,000 to over a $2m dollar annual budget under his leadership. 

Presently, he is the State Water Conservation Senior Technical Specialist at the Colorado Water Conservation Board and has worked in this position since 2009. Kevin provides technical and financial assistance to water providers across Colorado for water efficiency planning and implementation, assists local governments on land use and water efficiency integration, works on long range statewide water supply and demand forecasting and develops statewide water conservation policy through research and projects. He was the lead author for the water conservation, water reuse and land use sections of Colorado’s Water Plan.

In talking to Kevin and those who know him, it’s clear that, throughout his impressive career, he has been a team player and collaborator. For example, 

  • He helped convene the Colorado Water and Land Use Planning Alliance which is a multi-stakeholder group that develops resources, provides technical assistance, and tracks progress on water and land use integration across Colorado. The Alliance is working to implement an objective from the 2015 Water Plan that by the year 2025, 75 percent of Coloradans will live in communities that have incorporated water-saving actions into land use planning.
  • He spearheaded the Colorado Water Loss Initiative that assists participating water utilities to apply the AWWA M36 methodology to their water system and to achieve a complete and transparent (as measured by Level 1 validated scores) water loss audit. This voluntary program has seen extensive levels of participation. 
  • He and the CWCB have funded several water reuse projects through their grant programs to promote Direct Potable Reuse (DPR). This is a unique regulatory process in that the regulation was a bottom up approach married with top down funding. Grants have supported a mobile trailer with fully operational DPR treatment, a DPR demo project with Denver Water, and the Development of Colorado Guidelines for a Direct Potable Reuse Regulatory Framework.

Date: 2022-10-06

2021 – Denise Schmidt, Public Service Commission of Wisconsin

Congratulations to Denise Schmidt, Public Service Commission of Wisconsin

Recipient of the 2021 AWE Water Star Award

The Alliance for Water Efficiency is proud to present its 2021 Water Star Award to Denise Schmidt.

Denise earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Purdue University and a Master’s degree in Public Policy from Harvard. Her first professional job after getting her Master’s degree was as a water utility rates consultant at Ernst and Young in Atlanta. Then she went to work for the Atlanta Regional Commission as a Principal Environmental Planner working on watershed and land use plans. Upon moving to Wisconsin, she served as a Town Board Supervisor and Plan Commission Chairperson for the Town of Middleton.

Her conservation career began when she joined the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin in July of 2012 as a Water Policy Advisor. She is now a Division Administrator at the Commission, where Wisconsin is the only state in the country that regulates all private water companies AND public water utilities. Policies that the Public Service Commission adopts are broad-ranging throughout the Wisconsin water utility sector.

Here are some of her accomplishments:

  • She helped the Commission’s conservation and efficiency initiative evolve from a basic, standalone program to one that is now integrated into the Commission’s core regulatory work related to drinking water. As a direct result of her efforts, the Commission now considers conservation and efficiency options as part of its work on rate setting, construction project approval, outreach to financially troubled utilities, and water affordability. 
  • She built on the Commission’s work to flag high levels of water loss in Wisconsin’s water utilities and was determined to remedy that.  Now when Commission staff reviews a rate or construction application that indicates high non-revenue water, Commission staff conducts outreach to the utility, which may be required to conduct a detailed water audit using industry accepted practices and use the results of the audit to develop an actionable plan to reduce those losses.
  • Through extensive education and outreach activities, she raised awareness throughout the state of Wisconsin of the benefits of conservation and efficiency to all Wisconsin utilities, even those without water supply constraints.  And you all know how difficult that is.
  • She cultivated a network of state stakeholders and national experts on water efficiency and uses that network to spearhead training on AWWA’s M36 water audit methodology, AWWA’s Free Water Audit Spreadsheet Tool, and the WRF System Component Analysis Tool.  This statewide program connects staff from utilities of all sizes with industry experts, cultivating interest in the “why” for reducing non-revenue water with developing the “how” skills that result in specific actionable steps. 
  • She developed the portion of the Commission’s website dedicated to water utility training, which includes a special area on water loss.  Resources include a videotaped workshop and webinar hosted by the Commission and available on demand to utility staff as a four-part series on AWE’s YouTube channel.
  • She secured funding for and coordinated a water loss training pilot program that helped identify and demonstrate the benefits of providing training on a statewide basis.  She also volunteered to host a specialized grant-funded water loss training workshop with the Alliance for Water Efficiency.
  • She continues to work to develop consensus on ways to advance utilities’ adoption of industry accepted practices in conducting water audits and developing water loss control plans.
  • She has delivered written and oral testimony in rate and construction cases on multiple topics, including customer water use patterns, integration of conservation and efficiency into water demand projections used to size, design, and demonstrate the need for construction projects; rate structures that promote conservation and customer affordability; and sound planning to support infrastructure investment.
  • She served as Vice-Chair of AWE’s Education and Outreach Committee for 4 years, and Chair of the Committee for 2 years.
  • She helped the Wisconsin PSC win a WaterSense Award of Excellence in 2013 in the area of Outreach and Education.

But there’s more than just water efficiency to her accomplishments.

  • She’s contributed to the state’s efforts to accelerate replacement of lead service lines in communities across the state, which includes allowing use of water utility funds to fund replacement of privately-owned lead service lines. 
  • She spearheaded key revisions to a Commission program to identify utilities with financial problems, providing recommendations and changes to fix the situation. Since revising the program, all targeted utilities took Commission recommended steps, helping to ensure provision of safe, reliable service while addressing affordability and other local challenges.
  • She has been involved in the Commission’s response to COVID-19.  Wisconsin was one of the first in the country to enact a statewide disconnection moratorium and to open dockets into COVID-19’s customer and financial impacts to ensure continuity of vital water service to customers and utilities’ financial viability.

Wisconsin has been an outstanding State leader in water loss reduction and non-revenue water control, and that is a clear direct outcome of Denise’s leadership.  There is no other Public Service Commission in the country that is more committed to reducing utility distribution system water loss and promoting consumer side water efficiency as a matter of regulatory policy.    

For her extraordinary contribution to regulated water conservation and efficiency policy in the state of Wisconsin and beyond, for her commitment to assisting water utilities with reducing their water losses and financial pressures, and for her teamwork spirit and consummate dedication to working together for common water efficiency goals, the Alliance for Water Efficiency is very proud to present the 2021 Water Star Award to Denise Schmidt.

Date: 2021-10-07

2020 – Bill Hoffman, H.W. Hoffman & Associates, LLC

Congratulations to Bill Hoffman, H.W. Hoffman & Associates, LLC​

Recipient of the 2020 AWE Water Star Award

AWE is proud to award its 2020 Water Star Award to Bill Hoffman! Born in Lockhart, Texas, Bill went to the University of Texas at Austin and got a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering. After serving in Vietnam in the Army Medical Service as a Public Health Engineer, he went back to the University of Texas at to get his Masters of Science degree in Environmental Engineering.

In 1973 he went to work for the Texas Water Development Board, beginning his career analyzing water needs for energy development and industrial use. By the time he left the Board, he was the Assistant Director of Water Resources Planning and Supervisor of Water Conservation. He worked for them for 27 years. In 2000 he jumped from state government to municipal government, and went to work for the City of Austin Water Utility as the Program Supervisor for Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional Water Conservation Programs. He was also the Senior Staff Engineer. Since 2007, he has been an independent consultant in high demand, where he has provided his much-needed expertise to a wide array of governments, utilities, and organizations. Bill's career accomplishments include:

  • Initiating municipal water conservation and reuse programs for the State of Texas at the Texas Water Development Board and writing the rules to make water conservation plans mandatory for utilities receiving financial assistance from the State for water and wastewater projects, then administering the program he created.
  • Working on many Texas bills on water conservation: on water efficient plumbing fixture requirements; on sales tax exemptions for water reuse and rainwater harvesting, and on the incorporation of water conservation activities into the Texas State Energy Conservation Office operations. 
  • Helping initiate water conservation planning requirements into the Texas Water Development Board’s regional planning efforts (he currently serves on the Texas Legislative Water Conservation Advisory Council).
  • Developing a Water Audit Guidance Document for Audit Professionals for the City of Atlanta. 
  • Training future water auditors for restaurants for the City of Santa Fe.
  • Authoring an Industrial Water Use Guide by Sector for industries in the Saint John’s River Water Management District.

For his extraordinary contribution to Commercial, Industrial and Institutional water efficiency over a lifetime of work, for his commitment to the highest standards of program accuracy and analysis, and for his selfless dedication to always helping anyone who asked, the Alliance for Water Efficiency is very proud to present the 2020 Water Star Award to Bill Hoffman.

Click here to learn more about Bill's outstanding life and career.

Date: 2020-10-29

2019 – Kathy Nguyen, Cobb County Water System

Congratulations to Kathy Nguyen, Cobb County Water System

Recipient of the 2019 AWE Water Star Award

The Water Star Award recognizes individual excellence in water efficiency and celebrates the “unsung hero” who makes a huge difference by their quiet dedication, passion, and progressive approaches that move water efficiency and conservation forward. 

For her extraordinary contribution to her utility’s water efficiency goals, for her tireless commitment to the highest standards of program effectiveness, and for her selfless dedication to helping others be successful in the water industry in her state, the Alliance for Water Efficiency is very proud to present the 2019 Water Star Award to Kathy Nguyen of the Cobb County Water System in Marietta, Georgia. 

Some of Kathy’s many accomplishments include:

  • Awarded the Communicator of the Year Award from the Georgia Green Industry in 2008.
  • Chaired the Irrigation Association SWAT Promotional Working Group from 2013-2016.
  • Chaired the Alliance for Water Efficiency’s Education and Outreach Committee from 2013-2018.
  • Chaired the Georgia water Wise Council from 2007-2010.
  • Chaired the Georgia Section of American Water Works from 2013-2014.
  • Implemented and trained Georgia Water utilities on Water Loss auditing for the State of Georgia and managed the Qualified Water Loss Auditing training process for Georgia from 2016-2019.

Date: 2019-10-03

2018 – Glen Pleasance, Region of Durham

Congratulations to Glen Pleasance, Region of Durham

Recipient of the 2018 AWE Water Star Award

The Alliance for Water Efficiency presents its Water Star Award every year to recognize individual excellence in water efficiency. We celebrate the “unsung hero”, the water conservation practitioner working in the trenches who makes a huge difference by their quiet dedication, passion, and progressive approaches to move forward our field.

This year’s award winner, Glen Pleasance, Water Efficiency Manager for the Region of Durham, Ontario in Canada exemplifies the qualities that we strive to honor: a personal passion for water conservation, a quiet dedication to obtaining those needed reductions in water use, and persistence in the face of numerous obstacles and challenges. He has experienced more than his usual share of obstacles and challenges, and has persevered and made important progress in achieving conservation successes.

Glen has been a successful Water Efficiency manager for the past twenty-six years. During this time, he has been quietly developing and managing programs to conserve water, making very steady progress in bringing his region into a national leadership role. During his twenty years on the job he has – virtually on his own -- designed and managed Toilet Replacement Programs, published a well-regarded Household Guide to Water Efficiency, developed Water Efficient Demonstration Gardens, conducted Summer Student Lawn Watering Reduction Programs, Implemented Rain Water Harvesting programs, managed Indoor and Outdoor Water Audit programs, and instituted Water Loss Reduction programs.

One of his biggest achievements is his leadership in changing how his region will grow in the future. Working with the Municipality of Clarington's Planning Department, he created a Water and Energy Efficient Demonstration Community. He designed an Expedited Approvals program for Green development. And, working with Clarington's staff in the community where he lives, he worked closely with home builders and others on how to achieve increased water efficiency in new construction. He helped design, fund, and manage a project to conduct a year’s worth of water & electrical sub-metering. Three home builders undertook building two homes each with these sub-meters. These six homes had over 25 beyond-code improvements. Analyzing the installed water sub-meters, the electrical sub-meters and monitoring natural gas use, the six homes were shown to use 11% less electricity & natural gas and 14% less water over the first year of occupancy. These pilot homes thus set a pattern for future development. The next phase of the project will focus on field testing LID stormwater management methods in order to make new homes & neighborhoods more climate resilient.

He has also been involved in the broader Water Conservation community. For four years he served as Chair for the AWWA Water Conservation Division’s Water Efficiency Programs and Technology Committee. For another six years he served as a trustee on the AWWA Water Conservation Division. He is a founding Executive Member of the Canadian Water Efficiency Network, and past Chair of the Canadian Water and Wastewater Association’s National Water Efficiency Committee.

So when we set about creating a national water conservation organization – the Alliance for Water Efficiency – we wanted him to be part of our team. He said yes, but also no, not a national organization. Make it a North American organization. Officially include Canada, who needs to be a strong partner in the development of this new water efficiency network. After all, we two are the countries with the highest per capita water use in the world. We need to work on this together. Let’s make important progress. Together.

He certainly was convincing. And thus he became a charter board member of the Alliance for Water Efficiency, and served the maximum number of 9 years on our board before being termed out. He also was an officer -- our very first Treasurer -- a role in which he dutifully served for 6 years. Finally, he contributed his expertise to numerous AWE projects, such as an AWE peer review of conservation programs in the Region of York and the creation of a Canadian special committee within the Alliance for Water Efficiency.

His generosity with his time for all of us in conservation, his dedicated service, his continued perseverance to bringing his Region into a leadership position on water efficiency and sustainable growth, and his indomitable yet cheerful spirit are all reasons we honor him with the AWE Water Star Award.

Date: 2018-10-08

2017 – Carole Baker, Texas Water Foundation

Congratulations to Carole Baker, Texas Water Foundation

Recipient of the 2017 AWE Water Star Award

The AWE Water Star Award recognizes individual excellence in water efficiency and celebrates the “unsung hero” who makes a huge difference by their quiet dedication, passion, and progressive approaches that move water conservation forward. The 2017 Water Star Award was given to Carole Baker, President & CEO of the Texas Water Foundation.

After beginning her water career at the Houston Subsidence District in 1990, Carole quickly became a leader in the emerging Texas water conservation movement, providing counsel to state legislators and committee chairs. Thanks to her guidance, Texas became the first state to adopt WaterSense® plumbing standards statewide, and allocated $400 million for conservation and recycling in the Texas water bond—still the largest of any U.S. state. 

When the Alliance for Water Efficiency was formed in 2007, Carole was integral in securing start-up funding, raising nearly $600,000 herself. She served as the first Board Chair for the Alliance and held the position until 2015. Now, Carole directs the Texas Water Foundation and continues to mentor water professionals throughout Texas.

As we celebrate our 10th anniversary, we are excited to honor the impact Carole has made not only for the Alliance for Water Efficiency, but throughout the field of water conservation.

Date: 2017-10-09

2016 – Veronica Blette, U.S. EPA WaterSense® Program

Congratulations to Veronica Blette, U.S. EPA WaterSense® Program

Recipient of the 2016 AWE Water Star Award

The Alliance for Water Efficiency’s Water Star Award recognizes individual excellence in water efficiency. It celebrates the “unsung hero”, the water conservation practitioner working in the trenches who makes a huge difference by their personal passion for water conservation, a quiet dedication to obtaining those needed reductions in water use, and persistence in the face of numerous obstacles and challenges.

Veronica Blette was the perfect choice to lead the important new fledgling labeling program called WaterSense®. She had clear program experience at EPA and knew how to grow a startup program in the face of numerous government obstacles. Here is what has been accomplished under her quiet but persistent leadership:

  • Created a robust WaterSense Partner Network: more than 1,800 organizations, manufacturers, and retailers have signed on.
  • Developed a certification system with Stephanie Tanner that would provide for independent certification of products in order to earn the label, a system designed so well that ENERGY STAR® chose to emulate it in 2010 when they made changes in their program to move to a more formal third-party certification system. 
  • Launched a comprehensive social media program and the “We’re for Water” tour -- a national outreach campaign to encourage consumers to save water. 
  • Created a BMP Guide that covered 36 BMPs in the commercial and institutional sector and launched the H2Otel Challenge.
  • Launched a webinar series with partners such as HUD, ENERGY STAR, and AWE.
  • Added a number of campaigns, such as Fix a Leak Week, Shower Better, the outdoor Sprinkler Spruce Up, and the When in Drought campaigns.
  • Launched a directory of more than 2,800 certified landscape professionals to allow users to seek available people within their area.

But the true impact of WaterSense over these two years is in the savings achieved and the products labeled. Highlights of what has happened under her watch:

  • 16,110 products labeled – a staggering amount.  This includes:
    • 2,458 toilets
    • 9,359 faucets
    • 3,697 showerheads
    • 367 flushing urinals
    • 204 weather-based irrigation controllers
    • 25 pre-rinse spray valves 
  • 1.5 trillion gallons of water saved to date. That’s more than the entire amount of water used by all households in California for a year!
  • 212 billion KWh, enough power to supply 19.4 million homes for a year
  • 78 million metric tons of GHG, the equivalent of planting 2 billion trees
  • $32.6 billion in savings on consumer water and energy bills

In this 10th landmark anniversary of the WaterSense program, the Alliance for Water Efficiency is very proud to award its 2016 Water Star award to Veronica Blette.

Date: 2016-10-06

2015 – Fiona Sanchez, Irvine Ranch Water District

Congratulations to Fiona Sanchez, Irvine Ranch Water District

Recipient of the 2015 AWE Water Star Award

At the 2015 WaterSmart Innovations Conference, AWE presented its Water Star Award to Fiona Sanchez. This coveted award is given to an unsung hero whose dedication, passion and progressive approaches propel the field of water efficiency forward. Sanchez's accomplishments include:

  • Co-creating the community-based organization model for retrofitting high flush toilets with ultra-low flush toilets in the 1990s in partnership with Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Los Angeles Department of Water, and Power and Central Basin MWD. The initial program was a 1,000 unit pilot with one community group, the Mothers of East LA. Eventually, over one million toilets were retrofitted through this program, which not only brought water savings, but created local community jobs. Variations of this program were later replicated throughout California, New York, Georgia and Texas.
  • Co-developing the online water budget tool for the Municipal Water District of Orange County. This program provides landscapers and property managers access to an online tool to assist them in better managing landscape water use. A third party analysis of this program by A&N Technical Services reported average water savings of 765 gallons per meter per day.
  • Researching weather-based controllers and installing some of the first smart controllers in California. The Buck Gully Runoff Reduction Study quantified the water savings and the associated reduction in urban runoff from the installation of these devices.
  • Designing and managing the Irvine Ranch Water District's $1 million a year conservation program, which ties financial incentives to cost-effective water savings. Devices and programs include ULFTs, high efficiency clothes washers, industrial process improvements, turf replacement, high efficiency toilets, weather based irrigation controllers, and rotary nozzles. The associated total lifetime water savings across all fiscal years from these programs since 2005 is approximately 37,000 AF.
  • Revising IRWD's water budget rate structure allocations in 2009--not revised since 1991--and incorporated changes to the plumbing code and installation of more efficient plumbing devices. Indoor residential allocations were reduced from 75 to 55 gpcd, and the outdoor allocation was also reduced.

In addition to these achievements, she developed a standardized protocol for ET Data in California, and has managed numerous studies that have evaluated and advanced understanding of the effectiveness or impacts of new conservation technologies and water efficiency in general. Since 1991 the average daily water use for an IRWD residential customer ahs fallen from 170 gallons per day to approximately 86 gallons per day in 2014. Imported water supply from northern California went from 62% to a low of 23% in in 2014. Most impressive is that IRWD tells its customers that this conservation reduction helps keep water rates low, an excellent message!

Date: 2015-10-12

2014 – Amy Vickers, Amy Vickers & Associates, Inc.

Congratulations to Amy Vickers, Amy Vickers & Associates, Inc.

Recipient of the 2014 AWE Water Star Award

At the 2014 Water Smart Innovations Conference in Las Vegas, the Alliance for Water Efficiency presented Amy Vickers with its coveted annual Water Star Award, an award intended to recognize individual excellence in water efficiency. Vickers was honored for over 25 years of achievements in the water efficiency field. She is a nationally recognized water conservation and efficiency expert, engineer, and author of the award-winning Handbook of Water Use and Conservation. She is also recognized as having spearheaded the inclusion of plumbing standards in the 1992 U.S. Energy Policy Act, which has saved the nation trillions of gallons of water over the past twenty years.

“Amy has been an unfailing champion for water conservation, wise and efficient water use,” said Mary Ann Dickinson, President and CEO of the Alliance for Water Efficiency upon presentation of the award. “Her research, analysis, advocacy and leadership has advanced the field of water conservation and educated thousands of water conservation professionals.”

A prolific author, Vickers has written over 75 professional papers, articles, op-eds, and essays in addition to her book.

Date: 2014-10-09

2013 – Doug Bennett, Southern Nevada Water Authority

Congratulations to Doug Bennett, Southern Nevada Water Authority

Recipient of the 2013 AWE Water Star Award

The AWE Water Star Award is an award intended to recognize individual excellence in water efficiency. AWE wishes to celebrate the “unsung hero”, the quiet water conservation practitioner working in the trenches who makes a huge difference by their dedication, passion, and progressive approaches to move forward our field.

Water Star award winners receive this recognition not because they apply for the award, but because their peers around them recognize the value of their significant contribution and achievements over time and their quiet dedication to the cause.

Some of Doug’s too numerous to mention achievements include:

  • Establishing the WaterSmart Innovations Conference & Exposition in partnership with the U.S. EPA and other leading national and international organizations.
  • Reducing per capita consumption from 314 gpcd to 219 gpcd, and still dropping.
  • Enacting landscape development codes that strictly regulate turf and landscape design in new residential construction and also commercial properties.
  • Undertaking more than 100,000 water waste investigations for customers, where more than $1 million in fees have been assessed to repeat offenders.
  • Instituting efficient irrigation equipment rebates, where more than 2,000 residents received a rebate for replacing their irrigation clocks with more efficient controllers.  This has created a savings of more than 134 million gallons of water.
  • Establishing the Water Efficient Technologies Program which offers financial incentives to commercial and multifamily property owners who install water-efficient devices.  Each participant can earn up to $150,000 for implementing new, water-saving technologies.  To date, 48 projects have been completed for a savings of 527 million gallons annually.
  • Developing a water smart home specification to feature innovative indoor and outdoor conservation measure in the home and water-efficient landscaping. Each home constructed by the five participating builders is estimated to use up to 75,000 gallons less water each year than one built a decade ago.
  • Developing a program to pay customers $1.50 per square foot of turf removed. Since its implementation, more than 165 million square feet of turf have been converted through more than 40,000 projects.

We congratulate Doug and thank him for his creativity, intelligence, management savvy and extraordinary common sense in the successful conservation programs he has designed and implemented with his staff. Doug has inspired all of us to think outside of the box.

Date: 2013-10-08

2012 – Karen Guz, San Antonio Water System

Congratulations to Karen Guz, San Antonio Water System

Recipient of the 2012 AWE Water Star Award

The AWE Water Star Award is an award intended to recognize individual excellence in water efficiency. AWE wishes to celebrate the “unsung hero”, the quiet water conservation practitioner working in the trenches who makes a huge difference by their dedication, passion, and progressive approaches to move forward our field. Water Star award winners receive this recognition not because they apply for the award, but because their peers around them recognize the value of their significant contribution and achievements over time and their quiet dedication to the cause. Past Water Star award winners include water conservation champions like John Flowers of EPA, George Kunkel of the Philadelphia Water Department, and Bill Maddaus of Maddaus Water Management.

“Karen exemplifies those same qualities we wish to honor: a personal passion for water conservation, a dedication to obtaining needed reductions in municipal water use, and persistence in the face of numerous obstacles and challenges,” said Mary Ann Dickinson, President and CEO of the Alliance for Water Efficiency, who presented the award. “Karen has been working in water conservation for 12 years, a relatively short time in the span of some of our conservation careers. But in those 12 years, six of which have been spent as Director of the San Antonio Water System’s water conservation program, she has been developing strategies and programs for saving water that are innovative, gutsy, and no-nonsense stringent. Programs so effective that per capita consumption has been reduced by 40%. San Antonio now has 50% more people, yet they use 0% more water. These are impressive numbers.”

Some of her conservation program achievements include:

  • Retrofitted in excess of 300,000 toilets in the past fifteen years (120,000 alone since 2006).Changed the local code in 2010 to require WaterSense fixtures on all new construction.
  • Retrofitted all public schools and city buildings with high efficiency fixtures.
  • Developed a “four star efficiency” program for hotels, and over 200 hotels have completed retrofits.
  • Instituted “Plumbers to People” and Conservation Make Over programs that have brought free efficiency retrofits and leak repair to hundreds of low income customers.
  • Conducted conservation consults at homes that became so popular that 3-4 week wait lists developed, despite having 150 appointments per week.
  • Instituted a weekly conservation e-newsletter that now has over 11,000 subscribers.
  • Documented 120,000 personal interactions per year with their customers on conservation issues.
  • Developed a certification program with 80% of their local car wash operations participating.
  • Enhanced a custom rebate program to allow a $400/acre foot savings formula for any innovation that could prove savings over ten years; savings from over 100 projects have come from food process improvements, condensate recovery, car wash reclaim systems, hospital sterilizer upgrades, and laundry operation improvements.
  • Enforced all conservation programs, with a streamlined process with officers and the courts.
  • Conducted surveys to document that nearly 90% of their customers understand the rules and support them.
  • Instituted on-line water waste reporting, developed specialty software for tracking all reports and violations, and developed a cross departmental team to monitor weekly operations and progress.

And she is a statewide leader as well. She serves as the municipal representative on her state’s Water Conservation Advisory Council, where she leads the Metrics and Conservation Tracking workgroup and the Municipal BMP update project. She took the initiative to become a licensed irrigator, and is active in statewide irrigation issues. She serves on her state’s Irrigator Advisory Council and will assume the chair of the group for 2013. She also serves on the Board of her state’s Irrigators Network. And she helps the Alliance for Water Efficiency and others by being a continuous and willing participant in numerous research studies and projects, lending her expertise and data for the good of the overall conservation community.

Her water utility is justifiably proud of her accomplishments. Her boss Charles Ahrens said the following: “Karen is professional, creative, tireless and certainly one of the most knowledgeable water conservation professionals in the U.S. I am always amazed how she can motivate her staff, one that she leads with compassion but respect, in such a way that they continue to develop and implement creative and new approaches to achieve additional savings via our conservation efforts.”

Her President/CEO Robert Puente reflected that, “her expertise and professionalism has helped put San Antonio on the international map for water efficiency. Her tireless service to the people of our city and the state of Texas are a shining example of the positive impact a single person can have on a sustainable future.”

Date: 2014-10-04

2011 – Bill Maddaus, Maddaus Water Management

Congratulations to Bill Maddaus, Maddaus Water Management

Recipient of the 2011 AWE Water Star Award

Congratulations to Bill Maddaus, recipient of the 2011 Alliance for Water Efficiency Water Star award.  For more than 40 years Bill has worked tirelessly to improve water management and to ensure water conservation is properly included in urban water management plans.

AWE presents the Water Star award annually to a person who has made significant contributions to the field of water efficiency and conservation. Past winners include John Flowers of EPA (2009) - a key founder of the WaterSense program and George Kunkel of the Philadelphia Water Department (2010) - a leader in utility water loss management.

Date: 2011-10-06

2010 – George Kunkel, Philadelphia Water Department

Congratulations to George Kunkel, Philadelphia Water Department

Recipient of the 2010 AWE Water Star Award

At the AWE/EPA WaterSense Awards Banquet in Las Vegas, George Kunkel was recognized for a lifetime of achievement in promoting water conservation and water use efficiency and presented with AWE's 2010 Water Star Award.

This was a special moment for the water conservation community as it took time to recognize George, an unsung hero, as our national expert on the topic of water loss management.  Over the years, George has singlehandedly led the effort to change national policy on measuring and accounting for water.  All the while, George has been involved with numerous other initiatives, some of which include:

  • Serving multiple terms as Chair of the AWWA Water Loss Committee
  • Revising the AWWA M36 Manual
  • Co-authoring the Water Loss Control Manual, published by McGraw Hill
  • Maintaining the Waterwiser water loss web pages, and the water audit software
  • Maintaining the AWE water loss management web pages

Regarding George's dedication to water conservation and efficiency, Mary Ann Dickinson AWE's President and CEO stated, "As North America begins to realistically gauge and recover its leakage and non-revenue water, [George] will always be at the forefront of pushing this extremely important conservation issue." 

For all that he has done, and plans to do, we thank George for being a Water Star.

Date: 2010-10-08

2009 – John Flowers, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Congratulations to John Flowers, U.S. EPA

Recipient of the 2009 AWE Water Star Award

At the Alliance for Water Efficiency/Environmental Protection Agency WaterSense Awards Banquet in Las Vegas, John Flowers was recognized for a lifetime of achievement in promoting water conservation and water use efficiency and presented with AWE's first ever Water Star Award.

This was a special moment for the water conservation community as it took time to recognize and thank one of its leaders. John's pioneering visions and efforts changed the way water is used in the United States, and were instrumental in creating programs like WaterSense and organizations like the Alliance for Water Efficiency.

Some of John's initiatives in which he provided a leadership role include:

  • The setting of plumbing standards in the Energy Policy Act of 1992. This piece of legislation was a major milestone in the water efficiency movement.
  • The EPA Water Alliances for Voluntary Efficiency (WAVE) Program. Through the WAVE program over 1,000 hotels committed to water efficiency practices.
  • EPA grant for the WaterWiser Clearinghouse.
  • Research and outreach projects such as:
    • H2ouse.org
    • New development benchmarking
    • Avoided cost studies
    • Water Use Efficiency in IRP AWWARF
    • Submetering
  • Conservation guidelines in the Safe Drinking Water Act.
  • EPA Water Conservation Case Studies Report.
  • The labeling of water efficient products
  • The Alliance for Water Efficiency

Date: 2009-10-09