Water Research Foundation recognises achievements in the water sector

The Water Research Foundation (WRF) has awarded the 2019 Dr Pankaj Parekh Research Innovation Award to Dr Karl Linden, Mortenson Professor in Sustainable Development, University of Colorado Boulder; and three Outstanding Subscriber Awards for Applied Research to San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, Southern Nevada Water Authority, and Tampa Bay Water. The award recipients were honoured during WRF’s annual Subscriber Appreciation and Awards Breakfast at the American Water Works Association’s conference, ACE19.

The Dr Pankaj Parekh Research Innovation Award honours researchers who have advanced the science of water through WRF-sponsored projects. The award is named after Dr Parekh, who dedicated his life to ensuring safe drinking water and protecting public health. WRF’s Outstanding Subscriber Award for Applied Research honours subscribing utilities that have successfully applied WRF research to make notable improvements to their water treatment, delivery, and/or management processes.

“WRF subscribers and researcher partners are integral to the success of the entire water sector, and these awards provide the opportunity for us to honour them,” said Peter Grevatt, Chief Executive Officer of WRF. “We are pleased to recognise the leadership and contributions that Dr Linden, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, Southern Nevada Water Authority, and Tampa Bay Water have made to research and innovation, and in providing high-quality water services to their communities.”

Dr Linden has served as a Principal Investigator on WRF research projects for over 20 years, including several significant ultraviolet (UV) disinfection-related projects. Most recently, he led a team that developed action spectra correction factors for UV inactivation of Cryptosporidium and other pathogens. He has also served as a Project Advisory Committee member on diverse project topics. He has demonstrated research innovation and knowledge that can be applied by utilities and other end users to protect public health.

“Winning this award is a recognition of all the people I’ve worked with, and the innovative research we’ve done together—a lot of it thanks to support from The Water Research Foundation,” said Dr Linden. “Having the award named after Dr Parekh is very meaningful to me because I worked with him on a few UV research projects. Receiving this award is a real honour.”

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) is a department of the City and County of San Francisco. It delivers drinking water to 2.7 million people in the San Francisco Bay Area, collects and treats wastewater for the City and County of San Francisco, and generates clean power for municipal buildings, residents, and businesses. SFPUC provides its customers with high quality, efficient and reliable water, power, and sewer services. SFPUC has been a longstanding WRF subscriber, active in both research planning and research project implementation. SFPUC has made significant contributions to innovative research on direct potable reuse, including safety, blending requirements, and building-scale treatment and real-time performance monitoring.

Michael Carlin, Deputy General Manager and Chief Operating Officer of SFPUC, stated “we have been on the cutting-edge of research with the Foundation. It means a lot to our staff to be recognized for the importance of their projects and the value they add to the total knowledge base.”

The Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) was formed by seven drinking water and wastewater agencies in order to address water issues on a regional basis. As a wholesale water provider, SNWA is responsible for water treatment and delivery, as well as managing long-term water resources for southern Nevada. SNWA’s research and development team mentors post-doctoral students, placing them into leadership roles at utilities. SNWA also collaborates with other utilities to explore research priorities for drinking water, reuse, and wastewater.

“To be singled out among 1,200 subscribers is quite a privilege,” stated Dave Rexing, Water Quality Research and Development Manager at SNWA. Eric Wert, Project Manager – Applied Water Quality Research, added, “It also recognises strong support across multiple levels of the organisation, from the General Manager and board down to the research team. That support has enabled us to perform applied research focused on emerging public health concerns, innovative technologies, and process optimisation.”

Tampa Bay Water was founded in 1998, creating a new alliance between six governments in west-central Florida: Hillsborough County, Pasco County, Pinellas County, New Port Richey, St. Petersburg, and Tampa. Some of these member governments are actively involved in Foundation research projects and Committees their own, in addition to Tampa Bay’s involvement. Tampa Bay Water is a regional wholesale water supplier serving 2.5 million people through a combination of groundwater, surface water, and desalinated seawater. The utility’s commitment to diversifying its water supplies has allowed for environmental recovery, and ensures a reliable supply of clean, safe drinking water for the Tampa Bay region, now and for future generations.

“It is an honour to be recognised for our commitment to water research. Our Board of Directors has maintained a strong commitment to using applied research to make data-driven decisions and provide our member governments and their customers with safe drinking water,” said Ken Herd, Tampa Bay Water’s Chief Science and Technical Officer. “We’re able to apply science, technology, and research to provide an essential public service.”