09/21/2021 | Press release | Archived content
The Water Environment Federation (WEF) proudly announces the 2021 WEF Awards recipients for individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the sustainability of water resources and made a profound impact on the future of the water profession.
"Long-term resilience for the world's most crucial resource depends on the expertise of innovative, proactive, and capable water professionals," said Lynn Broaddus, WEF President. "We are honored to recognize this year's Individual and Organizational WEF Award recipients for their transformational impacts on the sector."
The 2021 recipients for Individual Service and Contribution Awards and Organization and Association Recognition Awards are:
Camp Applied Research Award: Dr. Bruce Rittmann
The Camp Applied Research Award recognizes a WEF Member who demonstrates a unique application of basic research or fundamental principles through the design or development of a wastewater collection or treatment system.
Dr. Bruce Rittmann pioneered the development of biofilm fundamentals and contributed to their widespread use in the cleanup of contaminated soils and ecosystems. Rittmann's long list of career honors, awards, and accomplishments in developing new and modified treatment technologies make him an ideal candidate for the Camp Applied Research Award, wrote the judging panel.
Engelbrecht International Service Award: Dr. Krishna R. Pagilla
The Engelbrecht International Service Award was named in memory of Richard S. Engelbrecht, who served as WEF President in 1977-78. This award recognizes sustained and significant contributions to the furtherance and improvement of the international activities of WEF.
Dr. Krishna Pagilla has been a member of the Water Environment Federation since 1988, playing an instrumental role as a perennial WEF representative at the annual Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition. Pagilla has also promoted WEF internationally in countries such as Spain, Poland, and India, in addition to advancing WEF programs through attendance at international conferences in Singapore, Germany, and elsewhere.
W. Wesley Eckenfelder Industrial Water Quality Lifetime Achievement Award: Leonard Levine
The W. Wesley Eckenfelder Industrial Water Quality Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes and honors an individual who has made substantial and measurable engineering, scientific, and/or operations contributions to the management or treatment of industrial wastes related to the improvement of water quality.
Leonard Levine has over 45 years in the industrial wastewater profession and has led operations for several industrial wastewater facilities in the Houston, Texas area. He has been an active member on WEF's Industrial Wastewater Committee for several years, specializing in peracetic acid disinfection, and has published an expansive collection of technical papers and delivered many presentations on the topic.
Ralph Fuhrman Medal for Outstanding Water Quality Academic-Practice Collaboration: City of San Luis Obispo Water Resource Recovery Facility and California Polytechnic State University
The Ralph Fuhrman Medal rewards extraordinary collaborative work by two or more people that has made a positive impact on advancing the water quality profession by increasing the knowledge base, demonstrating the application of innovative scientific concepts or project implementation methods, and enhancing the relationship between academia and clean water practitioners.
The City of San Luis Obispo Water Resource Recovery Facility and the California Polytechnic State University formed a partnership called the Cal Poly Sustainable Utilities Research and Education Group in 2007. The program, focused on improving the efficiency and reach of water resource management by performing innovative research and training the next generation of water quality professionals, so far has directly involved more than 2,200 students with sample analysis, operations, and research.
Public Officials Award: County Executive Steven Bellone, Commissioner Mariyana Spyropoulos, and Senator Sherrod Brown
The Public Officials Award is presented to an elected or appointed public official that has made a documented, significant contribution in clean water legislation, public policy, government service, or another area of public prominence that resulted in improvements to the water environment. The award can be presented for local, state or federal public service.
Outstanding Young Water Environment Professional Award:Pono Hanson and Vanessa Borkowski
This award recognizes the contributions of young water environment professionals for significant contributions to WEF and to the wastewater collection and treatment industry.
Pono Hanson has been involved with the WEF Students and Young Professionals Committee since 2015 and serves as its current Vice-Chair. In addition, Hanson has held active roles in the National AWWA/WEF Young Professionals Summit, WEF Student Design Competition, WEF InFlow, and Water Palooza events. As the WEF SYPC Vice Chair, he is currently the leader in developing WEF's first SYPC Mentorship Program in 2020-2021.
Ms. Borkowski is a senior civil engineer at Stantec's Hartford office, where she tackles water projects across North America. She is passionate about the role of modern water systems in our society and has leveraged her experience to thoughtfully design and manage water projects to protect public health. Vanessa has been an active member of Water Environment Federation (WEF), Engineers Without Borders (EWB), Habitat for Humanity (H4H), Connecticut Section of American Water Works Association (CTAWWA), and American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). In addition to professional organizations, Vanessa was selected to participate in UNLEASH in 2017. UNLEASH is an innovation challenge that brings together 1,000 millennials from across the globe. Vanessa's team focused on solutions for Sustainable Development Goal 6: ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
Vanessa is the immediate past chair of WEF's Students and Young Professionals Committee (SYPC) and is a true advocate of professional development opportunities for her fellow young professionals. Vanessa's insights are so valued by the organization that she was asked to serve on the Strategic Advisory Committee for the WEF Board of Trustees. She has led the planning of collaborative YP Summits jointly organized by WEF and AWWA. She previously served as the Programming Chair for the YP Summit, and during her time as a leader with WEF's SYPC, she initiated the Emerging Young Professionals Leadership Workshop for YPs to gain exposure to leadership acumen. Vanessa also served as the Chair of the WEF/AWWA Young Professionals Summit hosted in conjunction with the Utility Management Conference in San Antonio, TX in 2018.
Vanessa served as President of EWB's Phoenix Professional Chapter for two years, and traveled to the Dominican Republic to assess, implement, and monitor the water system improvement project for a small community. She also began and ran EWB's flagship annual fundraiser, a softball tournament, which raised thousands of dollars in support of the water system improvement project.
Outstanding Member Association Award: Virginia Water Environment Association
The Member Association (MA) Awards were established to recognize outstanding Member Associations and MAs that excel in areas of membership retention, financial strength, new memberships, scholarship programs, student achievement and support, technology transfers, and/or award programs.
When the pandemic began last year, Virginia Water Environment Association (VWEA) leaders knew connecting the state's water and wastewater utilities was critical. The Association's VA WARN Committee established weekly COVID webinars allowing state agencies to communicate directly with utilities, providing an avenue to ask critical questions to state health officials and regulators. The weekly webinars were held from April to July 2020 and attracted over 1,700 attendees. Additionally, VWEA distributed over 82,000 face masks to 15,000 utility employees in Virginia.
WEF Mentorship Award: Michael Sedon
This award recognizes the life-altering impact one person can have on a young professional and the difference a mentor can make by offering intellectual, social, and personal support.
Michael Sedon from Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania, is the Manager of Plant Operations at the Brush Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. During his 30-year career he has mentored dozens of young professionals. Eight of his operators have passed the certification exam on their first try. Michael is a member of the WEF House of Delegates, a Past President of the Pennsylvania Water Environment Association, and continues to serve on their committees. He has also helped coach several Operations Challenge teams from Pennsylvania.
Water Heroes Award: Contra Costa Water District; Chesterfield County Department of Utilities; Clackamas Water Environment Services; and Carlos Aldape and Johnathon Truong (Watershed Protection Program-City of Los Angeles, Department of Public Works and Bureau of Sanitation)
The Water Heroes Award recognizes individuals or municipalities who performed duties above and beyond the usual call of duty during an emergency to continue to protect the public and the environment.