Excellence in Water Leadership Award

ACWA’s Excellence in Water Leadership Award – Building a World of Difference® recognizes people (individuals or groups) who have made a remarkable and visible contribution to the enhancement, protection or development of water resources in California. (Specific projects and programs are not eligible.)

The recipient has the honor of presenting a $5,000 charitable donation to a non-profit organization that works toward the enhancement and / or protection of California’s water resources. The award is sponsored by Black & Veatch Corporation.

Apply for this Award

Please review the Excellence in Water Leadership Award – Building a World of Difference®  Guidelines and Nomination Form thoroughly before submitting your nomination.

Nominations for the 2024 award are now closed. Please check back later this year for the 2025 nominations.

Award Criteria

The ACWA Excellence in Water Leadership Award is presented to an individual or group of individuals recognizing an action, achievement or contribution to California water. The action or achievement must meet the following criteria:

  • It must demonstrate a spirit of cooperation.
  • It must have a visible and far-reaching impact.
  • It must relate to protecting, improving or enhancing California water resources.

The individual or group must possess a record of public service.


The award may be presented to an individual or an organization. Individuals and organizations from the following areas are eligible to receive the award:

  • Water Resources
  • Business
  • Environmental
  • Education
  • Media
  • Public Service

Nomination Process

Nominations for the ACWA Excellence in Water Leadership Award will be accepted from the following:

  • ACWA public agency members – Public agency members may nominate an individual or group.
  • ACWA regions – Any of ACWA’s 10 region boards may nominate an individual or group for the award.

Only one nomination may be submitted annually by an ACWA member or region.

Selection Process

The ACWA Excellence in Water Leadership Award Committee will screen all nominations and determine a recipient based on the award criteria. The committee is appointed by the ACWA president. Deadline Nominations must be submitted on the official nomination form and received in the ACWA office no later than March 1 of each year (or the following business day if deadline falls on a weekend or holiday).

Award Presentation

This award is presented annually at ACWA’s Spring Conference & Exhibition.

Past Winners

  • Ed Pedrazzi, Vallecitos Water District (2023)
  • Daniel Cozad, San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District (2022)
  • Robert Dugan, Placer County Water Agency and Jeff Harris, Sacramento City Councilmember (2021)
  • Robb Whitaker, The Water Replenishment District (2020)
  • David Kimbrough, Pasadena Water & Power (2019)
  • Steve Nugent, Carmichael Water District (2018)
  • Byron-Bethany Irrigation District General Manager Rick Gilmore and Board of Directors (2017)
  • Mary Henrici, Rio Linda/Elverta Community Water District (2016)
  • David Orth, Kings Conservation District (2015)
  • Paul Jones II, Eastern Municipal Water District (2014)
  • John Rossi, Western Municipal Water District and Marsi Steirer, City of San Diego (2013)
  • Max Sakato, Reclamation District 1500 (2012)
  • Daniel G. Nelson, San Luis & Delta Mendota Water Authority (2011)
  • Walter J. Bishop, Contra Costa Water District (2010)
  • Recycled Water Stakeholders Group (2009)