At its October Water Summit in San Diego, the National Association of Water Companies (NAWC) selected Chris Whitley, California Water Service (Cal Water), as the winner of this year’s Living Water Award and Golden State Water Company (Golden State Water) for the 2016 NAWC Management Innovation Award and the Larry C. Larson Safety Award.
The Living Water Awards “give private water industry professionals an opportunity to acknowledge and applaud their colleagues who are ‘living water’ through their extraordinary dedication and commitment.” Whitley, Local Manager of Cal Water’s Kern River Valley and Antelope Valley Districts, was nominated for his exceptional leadership in acting quickly, calmly and efficiently during the deadly Erskine Fire in June that devastated the Kern County community in which he lives and works. His response helped to ensure the health and safety of thousands of residents. Whitely manually turned off meters at burned homes to ensure adequate water supplies for firefighters and arranged Cal Water relief crews to provide safe, reliable drinking water to customers affected by the fire. Whitley also distributed $23,000 in gift cards to fire victims through Cal Water’s philanthropic giving program and helped raise more than $40,000 for the Erskine Fire relief fund.
The 2016 NAWC Management Innovation Award, which recognizes water companies for their pioneering and industry-changing ideas, was presented to Golden State Water for its “Collaborative Conservation Education Campaign.” To counteract “drought fatigue,” Golden State Water developed the extensive outreach effort to keep customers engaged and committed to meeting conservation targets while sharing their successes and ideas with others. The campaign included interactive contests, website forums and videos highlighting customers who have made conservation a way of life. As a result, water use drastically decreased, conservation targets were met throughout the service area and customers reengaged with wise water-use practices.
Golden State Water also received the Larry C. Larson Safety Award from the California–Nevada Section of the American Water Works Association during its annual conference in October. Golden State Water was recognized for its commitment to making employees’ health and safety a main priority and maintaining high morale among employees to provide a more proficient and productive workforce.
“There is nothing more important than the safety and well-being of our employees,” said Golden State Water President and CEO Robert Sprowls. “Golden State Water takes great pride in training our employees and reducing the potential for accidents. We know the criteria for this award are stringent. To be recognized in this category speaks volumes about the hard work and preparation employees at Golden State Water put in to ensure a safe environment for all.”
The award-winners were joined at the summit by David Henry, Cal Water’s Director of Technical Services, who participated on the Water, Communication and Energy Utility Integration panel moderated by Commissioner Catherine J. K. Sandoval, California Public Utilities Commission.