Pittsburgh - Last night, Pittsburgh City Councilperson and Vice Chair of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority’s (PWSA) Board of Directors Erika Strassburger was named a winner of the prestigious US Water Prize. This accolade is presented to those trailblazers who are forging new paths in the water sector and redefining what’s possible in water management and sustainability.
As national water and climate challenges continue to put a strain on our communities, the urgency for innovative solutions grows. Water issues are often a bellwether for other climate-related impacts that disproportionately affect historically underserved communities and communities of color. Today, an estimated two million people in the United States face significant challenges in accessing safe drinking water and proper sanitation facilities.
“At a time when communities are feeling the brunt of water-related stresses, it is critical to shine a light on the One Water champions who have dedicated themselves to innovation and to developing scalable approaches to One Water solutions,” said Mami Hara, CEO of the Alliance. “We were deeply impressed with the caliber of nominations this year, and it’s exciting to witness the One Water vision come to life in so many different areas of this work.”
Councilperson Strassburger won the category of Outstanding Public Official. Watch the video congratulating Pittsburgh City Councilperson Erika Strassburger.
“For her work bringing stormwater projects to life, banning plastic bags that clog water ways and stormwater grates, advocating for clean water and removing lead lines, and more, Councilperson Strassburger was the perfect public official to recognize,” said PWSA CEO Will Pickering. “Thank you to the US Water Alliance for this recognition of the excellent environmental protection and water advocacy work happening in Pittsburgh under Erika’s leadership.”
“Thank you so much to the US Water Alliance for recognizing our hard work to improve environmental standards and water quality in Pittsburgh. It is an honor to be in Tucson with the other One Water prize winners and to learn about their incredible work. I look forward to bringing fresh ideas back to Pittsburgh to make our water future even better,” said Councilperson Strassburger.
In addition to Councilperson Strassburger, the rest of the 2023 US Water Prize winners are:
Outstanding Public Sector Organization: Orange County Water District and Orange County Sanitation District—Demonstrating a deep commitment to One Water practice, this public sector partnership created the Groundwater Replenishment System. The recently completed project expansion, which recycles 100% of reclaimable wastewater, produces 130 million gallons of water per day - enough to serve a customer base of more than 1 million people.
Outstanding Private Sector Organization: Rainplan—This online platform empowers each of us to adopt and implement affordable green stormwater solutions tailored to our environments.
Outstanding Nonprofit Organization: DigDeep’s Colonias Water Project—DigDeep created and enacted a plan rooted in integration and partnership to provide water access in the Texas Colonias by working collaboratively with residents, other local nonprofits, and county officials to create a new model for public-private partnerships. By raising money for water infrastructure from non-government sources, the colonias’ county was freed to complete additional infrastructure, including streetlights and electricity.
Outstanding Cross-Sector Partnership: Corvias Infrastructure Solutions and Prince George’s County, MD: The Clean Water Partnership—The Clean Water Partnership sets the standard for cross-sector collaboration by bringing together 26 entities in the name of improving community water access and sustainability, with a focus on community engagement and workforce support.
Outstanding Rising One Water Leader: Rob Woodman—As Ferguson’s National Green Stormwater Solutions Manager, Rob has been an impactful leader and changemaker, focusing on educating and engaging communities and pushing the envelope on stormwater solutions across the country.
Outstanding Artist: Maritza Alvarez—Through her filmmaking as part of the Sacred Places Institute for Indigenous Peoples, Maritza has created accessible stories that elevate the water knowledge and experience of Indigenous and other historically silenced communities.
Outstanding One Water Communication: waterloop—Created by founder Travis Loop, waterloop centers positive solutions to the nation’s most pressing water challenges through podcasts and online news coverage.
The 2023 US Water Prize winners were selected from an extraordinary group of over 75 candidates. The awards ceremony was Tuesday, November 14 at 6:00 pm CT in Tucson, Arizona—coinciding with One Water Summit 2023. Discover more about the 2023 US Water Prize laureates and previous winners on the Alliance website.