BY HEATHER ENGEL
NOV 29, 2017
Anaheim, CA – The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) today presented its Huell Howser Best in Blue Award to the Rowland Water District for its innovative OPARC Fire Hydrant Maintenance Program that provides meaningful employment opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities.
The maintenance program is run in partnership with OPARC, a Southern California-based non-profit organization that trains and provides work opportunities for developmentally disabled adults. The success of Rowland Water District’s program has inspired other water districts in the region to also partner with OPARC.
The award was presented during the annual ACWA Fall Conference & Exhibition in Anaheim on Nov. 29, where approximately 1,600 local water officials are gathered through Friday for programs and panel discussions on California’s critical water issues. Rowland Water District was among five finalists for the award that honors exceptional communications and outreach programs developed and run by California water agencies.
“Rowland Water District’s first-of-its-kind maintenance program not only offers individuals with special needs the opportunity to earn a living wage, it helps raise awareness of the challenges they face every day,” said ACWA President Kathleen Tiegs. “This program is a great example of how local water districts can have positive and far-reaching impacts on their local communities and beyond.”
Other finalists for this year’s award were:
Cucamonga Valley Water District for its “Elevating the Next Generation of Employees” program, which includes a local internship program designed to provide valuable, hands-on experience that students can later use to apply for careers in the water industry.
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California for its water conservation campaign called “H2Love,” which underscores the value of water and the need to conserve regardless of the weather.
Rancho California Water District for its Agriculture Customer Involvement program focused on improving overall water use efficiency, protecting the local economy, and educating the community about the importance of agriculture to the region.
Water Replenishment District of Southern California for its Groundwater Reliability Improvement Project, known as GRIP. GRIP will replace 21,000 acre-feet of imported water purchased by the district annually for groundwater replenishment with locally recycled water.