El Toro Water District to Receive the AWWA Public Communications Achievement Award


August 18, 2016 Sherri Seitz, 949-837-7050 x239

David LaFrance, AWWA Chief Executive Officer (left), Dennis Cafferty, ETWD Assistant General Manager (middle), Gene Koontz, AWWA President (right)

Lake Forest, CA — The El Toro Water District (ETWD) is the recipient of the American Water Works Association (AWWA) Public Communications Achievement Award for its outreach and communications campaign related to a major multi-phase Recycled Water Expansion Project that impacted the City of Laguna Woods and the City of Laguna Hills.

The Public Communications Achievement Award recognizes excellence in the field of communicating information about water issues to the public. AWWA members and/or organizations are recognized for significant accomplishments in communication, educating the public, promoting awareness and understanding of water issues, establishing media relations, implementing community involvement programs, and inspiring others to model behavior with the public that builds trust and credibility.

The Recycled Water Expansion Project enhanced local water supplies and reliability, reduced dependence on imported water and expanded recycled water deliveries to meet future customer demand. This project was made possible by the ETWD Board of Directors recognizing the need for local water supply development & resiliency investment to reduce our dependence on importing water from hundreds of miles away.

Approximately half of Laguna Woods Village’s private roadways were affected by the construction, which was scheduled to take place over 18 months. Residents faced temporary road closures, detours, blocked driveways, and blocked parking areas, as well as construction noise and dust. Routine services (bus, mail, trash, etc.) would be delayed and/or re-routed and consideration for emergency response teams had to be made.

El Toro Water District’s goals were to:

  • Protect the reputation of El Toro Water District as a good neighbor and good steward of public funds
  • Maintain community goodwill through the 18-month construction process
  • Minimize community frustration and complaints
  • Increase understanding of El Toro Water District’s commitment to being a good steward of the environment and our precious water resources

The comprehensive outreach campaign community meetings with residents and stakeholder, cable TV commercials, meetings with local businesses, media outreach, a dedicated project helpline, construction alerts, community and open house events, project website, project educational materials, newsletters, and local television programs.

According to Robert R. Hill, General Manager at El Toro Water District, “We based our outreach campaign on the philosophy that every customer deserved to understand the impacts that this project would have on their community, and that customers should never want for information. The project received broad political support, and the District received many compliments from the residents who were impacted by this project.”

In the end, the outreach for the Recycled Water Expansion Project was determined to be a huge success.

Hill continues, “This acknowledgment means a great deal to our staff, leadership team and Board of Directors.  We are honored to receive this award and be considered leaders in our industry. This award will serve as a reminder that communications matters. We strive to communicate and interact with our customers in the most effective and thoughtful way possible.”

AWWA’s Communications Achievement Award was presented to El Toro Water District during AWWA’s Annual Conference and Exposition held in Chicago, Illinois in June. Dennis P. Cafferty, Assistant General Manager/District Engineer accepted the award on behalf of the District.

El Toro Water District
The mission of El Toro Water District is to provide its customers a safe, adequate and reliable supply of water and wastewater service in an environmentally and economically responsible way.

The El Toro Water District was formed in 1960 to cost effectively and reliably finance, construct, operate and maintain a water and wastewater system. The district’s service area covers about 5,430 acres including all of the city of Laguna Woods, and portions of the cities of Laguna Hills, Mission Viejo, Lake Forest and Aliso Viejo serving a total population of 49,000.  The district is also governed by a five member Board of Directors.

Website: etwd.com

American Water Works Association (AWWA)
Established in 1881, American Water Works Association is the largest nonprofit, scientific and educational association dedicated to managing and treating water, the world’s most important resource. With approximately 50,000 members, AWWA provides solutions to improve public health, protect the environment, strengthen the economy and enhance our quality of life.

Website: awwa.org

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