The American Water Works Association (AWWA) 2020 Exemplary Source Water Protection Award recipients demonstrate the highest level of vision, goals, action plan, innovation, implementation and evaluation in the categories of small, medium and large water systems. Recognition was made to three water systems in different size categories located in Nevada, Illinois, and Arkansas.
The award for Small source water system (serving less than 50,000 population) went to Tahoe Water Suppliers Association, California/Nevada. The Tahoe Water Suppliers Association (TWSA) is a partnership of 12 California and Nevada municipal water agencies operating around Lake Tahoe. Their primary drinking water source is Lake Tahoe, although several members have auxiliary groundwater sources. Lake Tahoe is one of the deepest and clearest lakes in the world and a popular destination for recreation, tourism and home ownership. TWSA’s source water quality goals are clarity and exceptional water quality. Source water challenges include storm water runoff, urban development, air quality and erosion. TWSA’s Watershed Control Program focuses on education, monitoring, data management, regulation, mapping, administration, water conservation and water rights.
City Water, Light and Power, Illinois was the award winner for Medium source water system (serving 50,001 – 500,000). As the largest municipal utility in Illinois, City Water, Light and Power (CWLP) provides water and electricity to about 150,000 customers in and around Springfield. The city owns and manages Lake Springfield, a 3,965-acre reservoir built in 1935. The lake is the utility’s primary source of drinking water, as well as the source of condenser cooling water for the city’s lakeshore power plant complex. It is part of the 265-square-mile Lower Sangamon River Watershed, which includes two main streams that feed the lake.
CWLP has worked with federal, state and local agencies and non-governmental partners to improve the water quality of the Lake Springfield Watershed. Because 75 percent of its land usage is agricultural, the city partnered with the Sangamon County Soil and Water Conservation District, leading to formation and the growth of the Lake Springfield Watershed Resource Planning Committee whose mission is to develop and implement a comprehensive watershed protection plan.
Rounding out the Source Water Protection “hat trick” is Large source water system (serving 500,001or more) Beaver Water District, Arkansas. Wholesale drinking water provider Beaver Water District (BWD) serves a population of 358,000 in northwest Arkansas. The system’s sole water source is Beaver Lake, a large reservoir on the White River that is vulnerable to high turbidity events and nutrient loads.
BWD partnered with the Northwest Arkansas Council to develop a Beaver Lake Watershed Protection Strategy, which became a key element in BWD’s 2012 Source Water Protection Plan. The district regularly revises and updates the plan as new data becomes available. In 2016, BWD’s Board of Directors voted to dedicate four cents per every 1,000 gallons sold to a Source Water Protection Fund. This funding ensures ongoing implementation of source water protection activities.
Through its Environmental Quality Department, BWD implements and oversees watershed protection projects including watershed and reservoir monitoring/modeling, stream restoration, research, GIS analysis, laboratory analysis, public awareness/education and policy/regulatory review.