2023 AWE Member Awards

2023 AWE Member Awards

Since 2009, the Alliance for Water Efficiency has recognized the outstanding achievement and impact of individual water conservation practitioners through our Water Star Award. In 2021, we began annually recognizing outstanding organizational members through a Member of the Year Award. In 2023, several new awards were added, and for the first time, winners for several of our awards were chosen from nominations submitted by our members.

The 2023 awardees were recognized during an Awards Reception hosted on the evening of August 2nd, during AWE's 1st Annual Water Efficiency & Conservation Symposium in Chicago, Illinois. Our Board of Directors, CEO, and staff were thrilled to honor the hard work, leadership, and dedicated service of several of our individual members and member organizations through these awards. Join us in celebrating our 2023 award winners!

Member-Nominated Awards

Excellence in Equity Award: Colorado Springs Utilities

(Ron Burke presents the award to Julia Galucci on behalf of Colorado Springs Utilities)

The Excellence in Equity Award recognizes an AWE member organization for significant success in advancing equity through their work with diverse populations. This may include practices or programs geared towards equitably serving BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities, people with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ persons, veterans, and low-to-moderate-income households. 

We are excited to honor the work Colorado Springs Utilities has engaged in to advance equity. After their team recognized that their lower-income customers had a lower participation rate in their programs and that fixtures in lower-income housing were more likely to be inefficient and leaking, Colorado Springs developed retrofit programs for affordable single-family, multi-family, and mobile homes and for affordable housing agencies. In addition, Colorado Springs Utilities also repaired leaks in affordable mobile home parks and provided HELP kits to HEAP-qualifying and other low-income customers. For these reasons, AWE was proud to present the 2023 Equity in Excellence Award to Colorado Springs Utilities. 

Innovation Award

The Innovation Award recognizes technological advances, research breakthroughs, and innovative practices of a current member organization that champions the adoption, implementation, or public acceptance of water efficiency and sustainability.

- Business Innovation Award: Flume

(Ron Burke presents the award to Ric Miles on behalf of Flume)

The Innovative Flume Smart Home Water Monitor has been a game changer in multiple ways.  For example, it gives homeowners a DIY tool to track and reduce water use, and Flume reports an average reduction of around 2O%.  Moreover, Flume shares the collective data from its monitors with water providers and others through its free quarterly webinars, enabling access to data that, historically, has been difficult and expensive to come by. Flume is helping water providers across the US understand how water is being used and how water use is changing. 

- Utility Innovation Award: San Diego County Water Authority

(Ron Burke presents the award to Lisa Prus and Debby Dunn on behalf of San Diego County Water Authority)

San Diego County Water Authority has developed and implemented one of the first and most comprehensive multi-benefit stacked incentive programs in the Country in partnership with the County of San Diego. This partnership brings together a regional water agency and stormwater department that has co-funded incentive programs producing supply and water quality benefits. The County of San Diego has invested $4 million in turf replacement, irrigation controllers, cisterns, rain barrels, and agricultural efficiency.  

The partnership also includes a technical assistance program, the Landscape Optimization Service, that helps large landscape owners replace turf grass with sustainable landscaping. In addition, the Water Authority launched the “Multi-Benefit Stacked Incentives Learning Network” to bring together the region’s 24 water agencies and 21 stormwater agencies to foster investments with multiple benefits.  

Up & Comer Award: Chris Garcia

(Ron Burke presents the award to Chris Garcia)

The Up and Comer Award recognizes an individual employee of a current AWE organizational member with less than five years in the water efficiency, conservation, and sustainability field for their leadership and commitment to pursuing water efficiency as a career path.  

Chris currently serves as the Environmental Resources Planner with Inland Empire Utilities Agency. At the start of his career, Chris had been working as a part-time intern when, unexpectedly, he had to assume leadership of  IEUA's $1.6 million/year regional WUE program, coordinating with seven retail water agencies and the Metropolitan Water District. Today, he oversees the work of half a dozen contractors and consultants and two interns of his own. Chris implemented a "Core + Flex" regional program design that better fits the region's needs. He has also taken steps to enhance access to funding and transparency of IEUA program spending and water savings.  

Chris' personal integrity and commitment to effective collaboration and collegiality have engendered trust, respect and appreciation. He is also attending school in the evenings in pursuit of a Master of Public Administration degree.  

Water Star Award: Christine Chavez

(Ron Burke presents the award to Christine Chavez)

The Water Star Award recognizes individual excellence in water efficiency and celebrates a water conservation practitioner making a difference through their dedication and passion. This individual is someone whose contributions and achievements have made a significant impact in the water efficiency, conservation, and sustainability field. The 2023 Water Star awardee is Christine Chavez, Water Conservation Manager for the City of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Christine has made her mark advancing water conservation and sustainability while working for the city of Los Cruces, Los Alamos County, and as an Adjunct Professor at New Mexico State University and Santa Fe Community College. She became Santa Fe’s Water Conservation Program Manager in 2016, which has been a model for the Southwest under her leadership. 

For example, the City's WaterWise program goes beyond traditional conservation to provide training for at-risk youth to perform water audits and implement pilot projects on the City's behalf. The City also sponsors the Next Generation Water Summit, which connects national and international experts that help keep the City ahead of the game. 

Christine has facilitated an annual water conservation scorecard that outlines goals with annual input from the city’s water conservation advisory committee and the general public. She utilizes the committee and strong public, private, and community partnerships to build multi-layered programs. She also serves as the President of the New Mexico Water Conservation Alliance. 

- Click here to learn about previous Water Star Awardees

AWE Staff & Board-Nominated Awards

Member of the Year Awards

The Member of the Year Award is an award intended to recognize an organizational member of the Alliance for Water Efficiency serving as a leader in the water efficiency and conservation community. An organizational member that has demonstrated consistent commitment to and support for the work of the Alliance for Water Efficiency--in recognition of their outstanding support and dedication to the Alliance for Water Efficiency and its mission to promote the efficient and sustainable use of water.

- Affiliate Member of the Year: International Association of Plumbing & Mechanical Officials (IAPMO)

(Ron Burke presents the award to Dain Hansen and Peter DeMarco on behalf of IAPMO)

IAPMO was an AWE Charter Sponsor, contributing both time and money to launch AWE more than 15 years ago.  They have consistently served on the board of directors, including our past Chair, Pete DeMarco. IAPMO has been a regular event, program and research supporter, and they are one of our most important policy partners in DC and state capitals advocating for additional water efficiency funding, incentives, and research.  

Our partnership with IAPMO highlights one of the things that makes AWE unique and powerful: we are water agencies, yes, but also businesses like Kohler, Whirlpool, PandG and Eagle Aerial; plumbers and contractors like PHCC, consulting firms like Cavanaugh, and codes officials like IAPMO. AWE brings together different perspectives and expertise. Together, we are much more than the sum of our parts, supporting each other to advance water efficiency in a variety of ways.   

We are immensely thankful to IAPMO for being one of our most important partners and supporters for more than 15 years.

- Business & Industry Member of the Year: The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company

(Ron Burke presents the award to Brian Herrington, Katherine Dickens, and Michael Diamond on behalf of The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company)

Scotts has been AWE’s most generous funder of critical outdoor landscapes and watering research over the past six years, including the Sustainable Landscapes Utility Program Guide and our study on the Use and Effectiveness of Municipal Irrigation Restrictions During Drought. Their support currently funds research between AWE and Utah State University evaluating the resource impacts of different landscapes.  

Our partnership with Scotts also made possible the creation of the Learning Landscapes Outdoor Water Efficiency and Conservation Lessons for grades 3-8 and Learning Landscapes grants for 13 communities to support building or improving an educational outdoor space at schools, gardens, or other community locals that allow school-age children to experience hands-on, applied learning about water efficiency in outdoor landscapes. 

In addition, Scotts has hosted AWE at its annual partners conference, which has led to a number of fruitful connections with other nonprofits with a passion for water.  For these reasons and more, we present the 2023 Business and Industry Member of the Year to The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company.  

- Water Supplier Member of the Year: Metropolitan Water District of Southern California 

(Ron Burke presents the award to Bill McDonnell on behalf of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California)

Metropolitan is a Charter Sponsor of AWE, having contributed substantial seed funding in addition to donating years’ worth of salary for our founding President and CEO, Mary Ann Dickinson.  

Metropolitan is a continual supporter of AWE, having been an annual member since Day 1, an event and program sponsor, a significant research supporter, and a strategic champion serving on AWE’s Board of Directors…Metropolitan’s representatives on the AWE Board of Directors include past Met Board Chair and Director Tim Brick, Assistant General Manager and COO Deven Upadhyay, and currently Bill McDonnell, Water Efficiency Manager—who is in the midst of his 5th year serving as AWE’s Board Treasurer.  

- Click here to learn about previous Member of the Year Awardees

Volunteer of the Year Award: Jill Greiner

(Jill was unable to attend the Symposium, but we honored her in absentia.)

The Volunteer of the Year Award is given to an employee of a current organizational member who served AWE in an expanded role over the past year, such as being a board member, committee chair/co-chair/vice-chair, and volunteering in other ways. The 2023 Volunteer of the Year awardee is Jill Greiner, Water Efficiency Program Coordinator for the city of Charlottesville, VA.  

Jill is the co-chair of the E&O committee and is a Communications Resource Library Subcommittee member. Jill is always well-prepared for these meetings, consistently delivers creative ideas, engages thoughtfully with the group, and is quick to problem-solve. She’s a one-woman department in her city of Charlottesville, VA but manages to be actively engaged with AWE and several other state, regional, and national entities. 

Congratulations, 2023 awardees!