Today at the annual meeting of the Association of Environmental Authorities, the partners sponsoring the annual One Water Awards announced three winners of the 2018 awards, each exemplifying innovative approaches to the water challenges New Jersey faces.

The New Jersey One Water Awards honor projects that demonstrate great water management. Winners illustrate the One Water ideal by valuing and making use of all water, whether it’s drinking water, stormwater, or wastewater. The awards program is sponsored by five organizations: American Water Resources Association’s New Jersey section, American Water Works Association’s New Jersey section, Association of Environmental Authorities, Jersey Water Works, and New Jersey Water Environment Association.

The inaugural honorees in 2017 showcased a variety of innovative and sustainable water management strategies, including a pipe repair project, a flood mitigation park, and a wetland wastewater treatment system. The program is now in its second year, and its 2018 winners have been announced. The nonprofit/academic category winner is the Camden SMART Initiative, a collaborative series of flood-reduction efforts in the City of Camden. In the private category, AeroFarms demonstrated an urban method for growing crops that greatly reduces water consumption. The Town of Hammonton won in the public category for its holistic approach to water management and conservation.

Receiving a 2018 One Water Award are:
  • AeroFarms in Newark, in the private-sector category, for its innovative commercial-scale indoor farming facility, which uses 95 percent less water than outdoor agriculture and generates no polluted runoff from the crops it raises;
  • The Town of Hammonton, in the public-sector category, for its holistic approach to water management and conservation, including a popular residential rebate program for water-saving devices and its first-in-New-Jersey use of treated wastewater for irrigation of nearby woodlands and recreational fields;
  • Camden SMART, in the academic/nonprofit category, for its record of community collaboration, engagement and education and for the 49 “green infrastructure” installations around the city that help manage more than 60 million gallons of stormwater annually, reducing flooding while adding to their neighborhoods’ attractiveness and value.
“These awards were established to highlight the innovative but often unsung work going on in New Jersey that treats every kind of water as an asset,” said Virginia Michelin, principal environmental planner in the Morris County Office of Planning and Preservation. “These winners truly understand the value of water in all its forms. Their approaches are making a real difference, and their recognition is well deserved.” Ms. Michelin is the immediate past president of the New Jersey section of the American Water Resources Association, a sponsor of the awards, and was a One Water Awards judge.
“It’s exciting to see the innovative ways in which these winners are looking at water management and to realize that they are, in fact, replicable across New Jersey,” said Robert De Block, the principal of De Block Environmental Services and president of the New Jersey Water Environment Association, another awards sponsor. “This awards program is so valuable because it helps highlight smart, practical solutions that, once they become known, can be broadly applied.”
“We saw a significant increase this year in both the number and diversity of entries,” said Peggy Gallos, the executive director of the Association of Environmental Authorities of New Jersey, one of the original awards sponsors. “They came from all corners of the state, and presented projects of all sizes. This is a strong indicator that more and more stakeholders across the entire water sector — for-profit and nonprofit, public and private, commercial-scale and neighborhood-scale — are finding real benefit in new approaches to the way we manage this critical asset.”

Jurors cast votes by a show of hands

“We were so pleased to have NJ-AWRA and and the New Jersey Water Environment Association join us as sponsors of the One Water Awards this year,” said Jennifer Brunton, associate vice president at the engineering firm Louis Berger and a member of the Jersey Water Works Steering Committee, who chaired this year’s jury. “Our sponsors understand the power of collaboration across all aspects of the water sector in implementing truly new ways of looking at water management. In addition, they bring extended networks that will now have the opportunity to learn more about the benefits of a One Water approach.”

A panel of independent jurors from different parts of the water sector judge the awards. This years jurors included:
  • Jennifer Brunton;
  • Laureen Boles, state director, New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance;
  • Brian Carr, manager of engineering, Middlesex Water Company and chair of the New Jersey section of the American Water Works Association, one of the award’s sponsors;
  • Carol Collier, senior advisor of watershed management and policy, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University;
  • Virginia Michelin;
  • Bill Muszynski, former water resources branch manager, Delaware River Basin Commission and a member of the executive committee of NJWEA, an awards sponsor;
  • Charlie Norkis, former executive director of Cape May County Municipal Utilities Authority and a former board director of AEA
“I was honored to serve on this year’s One Water Awards jury, and to represent one of the organizations sponsoring the awards,” said Brian Carr. “The jurors were all extremely impressed with the variety and quality of submissions, and we are pleased to recognize not just the winners but all those leading the way in New Jersey toward a One Water future.”
The One Water Awards were inaugurated in 2017 by Jersey Water Works, the Association of Environmental Authorities and the New Jersey section of the American Water Works Association as a vehicle for highlighting projects and organizations that exemplify the One Water concept — that all water, regardless of source or use, has value that can be unlocked by implementing sustainable, inclusive, and integrated water resource management practices.
Awards will be presented at Jersey Water Works’ upcoming conference Dec. 7, 2018, and honorees will be recognized at the American Water Resources Association New Jersey section conference in December, the American Water Works Association conference in March 2019, and the New Jersey Water Environment Association conference in May 2019.

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