Public Communications Achievement Award

Public Communications Achievement Award

2019 Recipients

Sweetwater Authority, California/Nevada Section
Water Replenishment District of Southern California




Purpose: The award recognizes individual AWWA members and/or member organizations for fostering and supporting the development of public outreach programs and integrating public affairs as a core element of utility planning and management. The award is intended to encourage utilities to incorporate public outreach into their operating plans, as well as to provide examples of successful public outreach programs and best practices.

Award recognition: The award is a plaque visually representing excellence and achievement in the field of public affairs. Award winners will be honored at the ACE conference and will be asked to contribute an article to Journal AWWA.

Number and frequency: Both individual and organizational awards are divided into three categories: A) those serving fewer than 5,000 service connections; B) those serving between 5,000 and 25,000 service connections; and C) those serving more than 25,000 service connections. A maximum of two awards per year will be given in each of the six categories; however, awards will be based solely upon merit and may not necessarily be issued in all categories. The program for which the individual/organization is nominated may be either ongoing or a large, focused initiative completed within the 24-month period prior to the application date, but which demonstrates a strong, broad-based commitment to public outreach and communications.

Solicitation of nominations: In addition to promotional materials at ACE, the Public Affairs Council will encourage nominations through practices that may include, but are not limited to, e-mail solicitation, direct mail, advertisements in AWWA publications and Section, conference and Web announcements. Additionally, the Public Affairs Council will encourage AWWA sections with similar communication awards programs to solicit recent winners and nominees to apply for the award.

Eligibility for individual awards: Because this award is intended to recognize directors and managers outside the public affairs field who foster and support public outreach as an integral part of the organization's management strategy , nominees must meet the following criteria.

  1. Individual nominated must be a member of AWWA.
  2. It is preferred that individual award nominees be a manager outside the public information, community relations or government affairs divisions who has demonstrated a commitment to communications and public outreach. Nominations of individuals in public affairs or outreach must clearly define why the application is for a single person rather than a group, department or organization.
  3. Nominee's career in the water works profession must span a minimum of three years. If the nominee is no longer employed by the member utility represented in the program or body of work, the period of separation must be less than 12 months prior to the application date.
  4. Individuals may not nominate themselves; however, they may be nominated by a member of the same organization, another member organization or an AWWA section.
  5. Service and contributions cited in the nomination must be related to operational goals and demonstrate outstanding efforts in terms of scope, creativity, excellence, impact, and/or success in communicating water issues.

Eligibility for organizational awards: Applications will be judged primarily on ability to demonstrate the utility's ongoing commitment to public outreach, commitment of resources to public communications, the linkage between communications efforts and the organization's operational goals, establishment of communication objectives, thoroughness of planning, execution of activities and documentation of results.

  1. Organization nominated must be an AWWA member utility.
  2. Nominee's work must exemplify professional excellence, demonstrate the utility's long-term commitment to public outreach and communications, and provide evidence of efforts to integrate public affairs as a core element of utility planning and management.
  3. Service and contributions cited in the nomination demonstrate outstanding efforts in terms of scope, creativity, excellence, impact, and/or success in communicating water issues.
  4. The nomination should not reflect a short-term (crisis management plan) program unless addressing the issue required the development and implementation of a sustained, long-term outreach program.
  5. Communication efforts cited must have had a documented positive impact on operational objectives, improving organizational performance, gaining support or mitigating issues within the community, and/or becoming an industry leader.

Judging criteria: Nominations will be evaluated on the following criteria and assigned a numerical score by a panel of three judges selected from the AWWA Public Affairs Council. Programs/individuals that do not qualify for the award based on scores may qualify for a Certificate of Merit at the judges' discretion.

  1. Documented achievements in public affairs, including projects or programs that promote awareness and understanding of water issues.
  2. Exceptional efforts that demonstrate the nominee's skills and commitment to overcome challenges and/or fully integrate communications and public affairs as a core element of management strategies.
  3. Embracing public affairs in day-to-day management and operations with demonstrated commitment to skills transfer and mentoring others in this practice.

Other factors that may be considered include:

  1. Documentation of efforts to assess best practices for outreach, plan outreach activities, and post-program evaluation of effectiveness.
  2. Volunteer service and leadership (individual or organizational) to the Section or International AWWA organization.

Nomination procedure: Nominations must include:

  1. Completion of Award Nomination form, specifying the category for which the application is being submitted (see top of this page to download the form).
  2. Nomination overview that includes: Relevant operational goals, communication objectives, strategy, target audience(s), activities, results and methods used to measure effectiveness (up to five pages).
  3. Samples exemplifying achievements, i.e. media clippings, brochures, newsletters, etc. (up to ten examples total). Videos are discouraged but will be accepted as work samples if less than five minutes in duration (please queue to appropriate portion). Entry forma and samples may be submitted electronically; printed samples should not be submitted in packages larger than a 12" x 12" x 12" box.
  4. Overview of organization, including brief history and scope of services provided, or in the case of individual nominees, a biography with attached photograph.
  5. If submitting printed materials four copies of the above nomination form and sample material must be included. Only one copy is necessary if submitting electronically.

Nomination deadline: Award nominations shall be due to AWWA by October 1st with the award to be presented at the awards ceremony at the AWWA Annual Conference and Exposition. For additional questions, or to submit an entry, please email Amber Wilson.

Selection committee: Committee will include three individuals from AWWA Public Affairs Council.

Past Recipients

  • Helix Water, California/Nevada Section
  • The Regional Municipality of York, OWWA, a Section of AWWA
  • Honorable Mention: Illinois American Water, Illinois Section
  • Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, California-Nevada section
  • El Paso Water, Texas Section
  • El Toro Water District, California-Nevada Section
  • Rancho California Water District, California-Nevada Section
  • Colorado Springs Utilities, Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Los Angeles, California
  • Azusa Light & Water, Azusa, California
  • City of San Diego Water Purification Demonstration Project, San Diego, CA
  • City of Mansfield Water Utilities Department, Mansfield, TX
  • Municipal Water District of Orange County, Fountain Valley, CA
  • City of Morgan Hill Utilities Division, Morgan Hill, CA
  • Illinois American Water, Belleville, Illinois
  • San Francisco (Calif.) Public Utility Commission Water Quality Div.
  • Metro Vancouver (B.C.)
  • City of San Diego (Calif.) Public Utilities Department
  • Denver (Colo.) Water
  • City of Grand Prairie (Texas) Public Works Department
  • Patricia Mulroy, Southern Nevada Water Authority
  • Regional Municipality of Peel (Ont.)
  • Prince William County (Va.) Service Authority
  • Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
  • Contra Costa (Calif.) Water District
  • Birmingham (Ala.) Water Works