AMWA Honors Drinking Water Utilities for Management Excellence

The Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies recently honored four public drinking water systems with its top utility management awards Oct. 4 in ceremonies at its 2021 Executive Management Conference in Denver.

Two systems received the Sustainable Water Utility Management Award, one received the Platinum Award for Utility Excellence, and one was presented the Gold Award for Exceptional Utility Performance. 

The Sustainable Water Utility Management Award 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. The Platinum and Gold awards recognize outstanding achievement in implementing the nationally recognized Attributes of Effective Utility Management.

The 2021 AMWA Sustainable Water Utility Management Award winners are Denver Water and the Knoxville (Tennessee) Utilities Board.

The winner of the 2021 AMWA Platinum Award for Utility Excellence is the Oklahoma City Water Utilities Trust.

AMWA presented its 2021 Gold Award for Exceptional Utility Performance to the Cobb County-Marietta (Georgia) Water Authority.

“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,” says AMWA President Angela Licata, deputy commissioner of sustainability for the 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.”

Denver Water is a second time sustainable award winner. The utility strives to improve operations and protect its surrounding ecosystems and communities. It has formal goals to reduce carbon emissions, improve energy use to maintain net-energy neutrality, expand renewable energy resources and improve green infrastructure. Denver Water has undertaken one of the largest public health initiatives in its history — 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.

Knoxville Utilities Board is the first-time winner of the Sustainable Water Utility Management Award. Knoxville Utilities Board makes the right investments in its utility systems and develops and promotes environmentally sustainable initiatives within its operations and through its programs. The utility 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. KUB’s sound financial structure and management ensure al sustainability initiatives are well-funded and balanced annually.

Oklahoma City Water Utilities Trust meets 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, prudent cash management and balanced debt management as evidenced in its 2020 AAA/Aaa ratings by Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s. 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.

Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority is the second largest supplier of drinking water in the state of Georgia. It 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. 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. Cobb County-Marietta also has a record of zero quality regulatory violations in the 11 year, setting high industry standards.

AMWA Anniversary

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., and founded in 1981 with 16 members, AMWA now serves nearly 200 publicly owned drinking water utilities.

“The commitment of board members and the membership have been critical to the association’s past successes and will be the foundation of AMWA’s continued growth and future achievements,” says Licata. “Climate change impacts and infrastructure security are now making headlines, yet AMWA has been providing leadership on these issues for well over a decade.”


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