Living Water Awards

NAWC members are dedicated professionals, innovative thinkers, inspiring leaders and engaged environmentalists. NAWC’s Living Water Awards honor the contributions of these exceptional individuals who display commitment to company, colleagues, community and the environment.

Living Water Award recipients represent the best of the regulated water industry, specifically employees at NAWC member companies for work done well beyond their current job responsibilities. Some examples may include:

  • Step up in a time of crisis or in an emergency
  • Elevate environmental stewardship or community commitment
  • Advance industry innovation that benefits customers

Nominate a colleague for the Living Water Award today by using the form below. Semi-finalists will be selected in advance of the Water Summit and will receive recognition leading up to the Summit and the 2023 NAWC Living Water Award winner will be announced at the Water Summit in Atlanta, GA.

Nominations for the Living Water Award are due by July 14, 2023.

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Living Water Awards

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2022 Living Water Award Winner

Amy Matthews

EPCOR – Customer Care Manager

Amy Matthews was at the helm when EPCOR’s customer care team experienced the nightmare scenario of a ransomware attack on the third-party vendor handling the company’s customer service line, billing and collections services. The attack happened at the same time EPCOR was incorporating new customers into the billing system. Further complicating matters, the company was also re-integrating systems and disconnections that took place over the past two years during the pandemic. It was a perfect storm of customer care headaches. The solution required new manual processes to handle billing – meaning additional staff had to answer phone calls and send personalized responses to more than 1,000 customer emails each day. 

Under Amy’s leadership, her customer service team expertly navigated this crisis, equipped with the knowledge and material they needed to continue providing a high-level of customer service. Amy and her team spent countless hours addressing the myriad of customer service issues caused by the ransomware attack and moved quickly to reduce call center wait times. Leading by example, Amy modeled how to de-escalate customer concerns and find a solution to problems that would resolve even the toughest cases. She was a big part of building up the EPCOR brand during this crisis – always putting her best foot forward and handling each and every situation with care. Always quick to provide support to customer experience professionals in the water industry, Amy has shared the EPCOR experience and the tools she and her team used to be successful. 

“Amy is passionate about the community she serves and is a vital part of the EPCOR leadership team by bringing her in-depth experience to complicated issues. With nearly two decades of experience in human resources, her expertise guides EPCOR’s customer care team to deliver top-notch service to customers,” said Becky Burleigh, Vice President of Corporate Services for EPCOR.

2022 Living Water Award Finalists

Dante DeStefano

Corix – Director of Regulatory Affairs

Thanks to Dante’s efforts and collaboration with other utilities, regulators and outside legal counsel, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed legislation that enabled all private water and sewer utilities to file multi-year rate plans – allowing customers and utilities like Corix to benefit from lowered administrative costs and greater cost certainty. Traditionally, rate cases have been submitted on a year-by-year, “as needed” basis that is costly for both utilities and customers. In the past, Corix has filed North Carolina rate cases at a cost of approximately half a million dollars each, all of which is passed on to customers. The new multi-year approach, however, means Corix and similar utilities can file for 2023-2025 in a single filing, saving time and money for customers, the regulatory commission and other utilities. “Dante’s efforts led to a win-win situation that will help make sure private water and wastewater utilities have the infrastructure in place they need to thrive in the years to come,” said Deborah Clark, Communications and Community Engagement Manager for Corix Utilities.

Doug Dunham

EPCOR – Water Resources Manager

As the drought in the West continues to raise concerns, Doug was a vital part of short- and long-term drought mitigation in the southwestern United States. During his time at EPCOR, Doug secured several new water resources and expertly represented the private water industry during drought mitigation and Colorado River shortage planning. Doug ensures he prioritizes programs that guarantee water conservation, such as recharge and recovery, well and surface water programs. And with over 30 years of knowledge and experience, his expertise makes him a valuable part of the industry and a critical team member at EPCOR. “Doug is an instrumental part of industry leadership. Doug understands all aspects of the industry’s important issues and consistently represents the private water sector to the highest standard,” said Thomas Loquvam, General Counsel and Vice President of Public Policy for EPCOR.

Elizabeth Cullen

Aqua America  Hydraulic Engineer

Elizabeth, known as Lizzy by her colleagues, is leading an effort to develop digital twin technology that will link live operational data to hydraulic simulations, providing real-time value and decision-making tools. This tool alone will significantly limit customer outages in the event of emergencies. And her passion for accessible, high-quality water doesn’t stop when she leaves the office. Lizzy recently traveled to Madagascar where she assisted in creating tools for local water utilities to better manage their systems, creating accountability mechanisms to ensure that customers, operators, government agencies, NGOs, and donors all have relevant information for their respective needs. Lizzy is a perfect example of a true water steward, and NAWC is proud to recognize her efforts in ensuring everyone, no matter where they live, can access clean, safe and reliable drinking water. “Lizzy is truly a special talent. She provides collaborative, outside-the-box thinking with each challenge and has quickly become the ‘go- to’ person to help with pressing issues related to water supply and environmental compliance,” said Michael L. Convery, Senior Project Engineer at Aqua America.

Ray Montana

Veolia New York  Senior Project Manager

A true customer service champion, Ray is known for meeting customers when they need, where they need – including meeting them after work hours, on the weekends or whenever they call for assistance. Ray’s recent project was a water main replacement along a narrow dead-end road that required bypass piping for installation. Many customers living on this street were elderly and one customer required in-home dialysis. Being the thoughtful and detail-oriented project manager he is, Ray worked with the contractor and the local EMTs to make sure the project would not prevent the ambulance from reaching the correct house. While this may seem like a minute task, many project managers would not have taken the proactive step to ensure the road was clear before the ambulance arrived. And Ray’s impact doesn’t stop there. Ray has also taken on the responsibility of taking interns into the field where they are working side-by-side with him resolving real issues customers are facing. His passion never goes unnoticed. In fact, his summer interns leave Veolia committed to working as engineers in the water space. “Ray is an asset to Veolia and we are lucky to have him as an employee,” said Paula McEvoy, Vice President of Capital Planning and Delivery for Veolia North America.

Nominations must be made by an employee of an NAWC member companies and nominees must also be employed by an NAWC member company. Nominations are submitted by completing a simple online form available on the NAWC Website.