Positive Wave Award: Past Winners

This page contains all of the past members of the National Association of Water Company’s prestigious Positive Wave Award. New recipients will be added here as they are announced by NAWC.

August 2021: Jeffrey Gream

Safety. It is the number one priority for our member companies. Nothing matters more than making sure every employee returns home safely after a day on the job. Jeffrey (Jeff) Gream understands that and lives it every day.

In May 2021, while at a job site with contractors who were repairing a water main, Jeff noticed that a contractor had entered an excavated hole without proper shoring. The hole was deep—over the contractor’s head and potentially dangerous. Jeff used his stop work authority, ultimately shutting down the repair operation until the contractor took steps to make the excavation site safe and the contractor was held responsible for the safety violation.

Anyone who has ever had to stop work or even correct someone for a mistake or misstep knows the challenges behind it. You can feel like you are letting your team down, or are being too stringent, or even feel like you are adding to the number of safety incidents for your district and state.

It is a difficult call to make, knowing that reporting the incident and shutting down work would slow down the repair and potentially put a negative spotlight on the contractor.

But, as Jeff recounted the story, while he felt guilt for stopping work, he would have felt even more guilt had he not done anything, and someone lost their life.

Jeff, who is a member of IBEW Local Union 1393, has told this story to our local and regional safety committees and shared the story on an all-managers call for the state of Indiana.

“Jeff Gream represents what safety means at American Water and, I’m proud he had the courage to take action and keep safety a top priority,” said Christopher Hayes, Jeff’s direct manager at Indiana American Water who nominated Jeff for the honor. “Our field employees encounter instances that require critical thinking, problem solving, and courage every day without our knowing it and I am grateful for their efforts.”

Congratulations to you Jeff for making a positive wave in our industry by watching out for your colleagues!

July 2021: Alberto Coronado

NAWC’s first recipient of the Positive Wave Award is Alberto Coronado, maintenance foreman with SouthWest Water Company (SWWC).

Alberto was recognized for his courageous and selfless actions during the February 2021 winter storm that left millions of households in Texas without power and water. Alberto was integral in keeping the drinking water and wastewater services online for SWWC customers in Pflugerville, TX during Winter Storm Uri. He used a heavy-duty truck to move a mobile generator from facility to facility to power the wells and pumps that provide water supply for the system. He also used the generator to cycle the lift station pumps to move wastewater through the collection system to the treatment plant.

“Our company is proud of the exceptional work by Alberto. He is a prime example of how we will work hard to keep our customers in service, but also demonstrates the personal sacrifice our employees make to support their teammates, and our customers, in a challenging situation,” said Jeffrey L. McIntyre, President of Texas Water Utilities, SouthWest Water Company.

Congratulations Alberto and many thanks for your service and contributions to our industry!