The WaterNow Alliance presented Steve Elie, Inland Empire Utilities Agency's (IEUA/Agency) Board President, with the inaugural WaterNow Alliance Impact Award for his leadership in spearheading the negotiation of a non-litigation resolution of longstanding groundwater contamination. The award was presented to President Elie at the WaterNow Alliance Summit dinner held on April 20, 2017, in Boulder, Colorado
The WaterNow Alliance Impact Award recognizes and honors public water agency decision makers for leadership around accelerating and/or expanding innovative and sustainable water solutions in their communities. The primary criterion for an Impact Award is the evidence of leadership in supporting one or more sustainable water solutions with meaningful effect at the community or regional level. The award also identifies those who provide leadership in advancing equity in the water space - by helping to make water more affordable, accessible or safer, or provide other benefits for disadvantaged communities.
Through President Elie's leadership, the Agency took the lead in developing a multi-agency and private business agreement to clean up a groundwater contamination plume (Plume) that impacted water quality for residents in the city of Ontario specifically and the Chino Basin as a whole. Following several decades of discussion and a lack of progress on solving the problems caused by the contamination, IEUA stepped forward to do the right thing for the region and offered to fund significant cleanup infrastructure costs, without regard to liability. President Elie's leadership in recognizing the urgent need for a community-wide solution for cleaning up the Plume and using IEUA's resources to secure state and federal grants - including a pledge of the Agency's own funding as backup - was the key to opening the door to a successful negotiated resolution, without resorting to litigation.
"I am proud and humbled to be recognized by the WaterNow Alliance for leadership in water supply safety and accessibility," stated President Steve Elie. "To solve this problem in a way unlike most contamination claims, which are litigated with time money and resources dedicated to pointing fingers, we developed a common-sense strategy that leveraged local infrastructure and state and federal funding partnerships for the cleanup of the Plume, making a critical difference for our community while demonstrating a sustainable water solution that can be applied throughout California."
The WaterNow Alliance is a network of water utility leaders interested in jumpstarting sustainable water solutions in their communities. The Alliance focuses on innovative strategies to accelerate adoption of reuse and efficiency technologies, green infrastructure, watershed health, stormwater recapture and groundwater management.
The Inland Empire Utilities Agency covers 242-square miles, distributes imported water, provides industrial/municipal wastewater collection and treatment services, and other related utility services to more than 875,000 people through its member agencies which include Chino, Chino Hills, Cucamonga Valley Water District, Fontana, Fontana Water Company, Montclair, Monte Vista Water District, Ontario, and Upland.