Credit: LBWD

Water quality experts at the Long Beach (Calif.) Water Department inspect the city's water supply using state-of-the-art monitoring technology, including an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer.

Credit: SCVWD

Water treatment improvements at the Santa Clara (Calif.) Valley Water District included installation of ozone generation equipment for primary disinfection at its Santa Teresa water treatment plant.

Managers of drinking water systems must juggle sparse budgets, community growth, and demanding customers. The 2006 Competitiveness Awards—bestowed by the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA)—applauds water systems that get the job done brilliantly.

Seven drinking water systems received this year's Gold Award for Competitiveness Achievement. The honors recognize operations that exhibit stellar management practices, chart new financial courses, seek out growth opportunities, and meet customer needs and expectations.

The Long Beach (Calif.) Water Department, a Gold Award recipient, provides water and wastewater services to a city of nearly 500,000 people. The system boasts more than 2000 miles of water and sewer lines, a 62.5 mgd groundwater treatment plant, 30 wells, and more than 20 lift stations. One innovation general manager Kevin Wattier is proudest of is the department's geographic information system (GIS), which he says has helped the agency switch from a reactive mindset to a preventative one, increasing its overall cost efficiency.

“Our investment in GIS has demonstrated that it's possible to effectively utilize technology to manage our infrastructure,” says Wattier. “We've gotten to the point where our field employees trust the technology to be accurate and user friendly, and they use it in the field for their daily operations.”

Other 2006 Gold Award winners include:

  • Aurora (Colo.) Water
  • Clearwater (Fla.) Public Utilities
  • City of Glendale (Ariz.) Utilities Department
  • Orange (N.C.) Water and Sewer Authority
  • Orlando Utilities Commission
  • City of Santa Rosa (Calif.) Utilities Department.
  • Three years after earning a Gold Award, utilities can apply for the Platinum Award, which honors systems showing sustained management excellence. This year's recipients include:

  • Birmingham (Ala.) Water Works and Sewer Board
  • Chicago Department of Water Management
  • District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority
  • Green Bay (Wis.) Water Utility
  • Jacksonville (Fla.) Electric Authority
  • Palm Beach County (Fla.) Water Utilities Department
  • City of Raleigh (N.C.) Public Utilities Department
  • St. Paul (Minn.) Regional Water Services
  • Santa Clara Valley (Calif.) Water District.

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