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EPA Honors Three Southern California Water Agencies Today in National Ceremony

Release Date: 4/1/2003
Contact Information: Lisa Fasano, 415/947-4307

     SAN FRANCISCO   The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency honored three Southern California water agencies in Washington DC today for their efforts to protect watersheds beyond federal Clean Water Act requirements.
    The EPA selected the city of San Buenaventura, Orange County Water and Sanitation Districts and the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority from over 200 nominations sent in from around the country.

    EPA Administrator Christie Whitman and Assistant Administrator for Water G. Tracy Mehan III honored these local winners and 76 other water pollution control agencies from across the country this morning with the Clean Water Partners for the 21st Century Award.  Agencies were selected based on actions such as protecting and restoring rivers, lakes, streams, and wetlands and initiating innovative local pollution prevention programs.
    "The Year of Clean Water provides us with a tremendous opportunity to recognize the hard work, sacrifice, and leadership of local agencies from across the country," said Whitman.  "These award winners have set a strong example for future clean water efforts, and we look forward to working with our partners toward our shared goals to reduce water pollution and ensure cleaner, purer water for all Americans."
Orange County Water District, Fountain Valley, Calif., has implemented many environmental projects to improve the local watershed, including the nation's largest reclamation project; the largest children's water education festival in the U.S.; southern California's largest constructed wetlands program; and the recovery of an endangered songbird.  Additionally, the District launched a full-scale bacterial source tracking investigation to determine what has caused elevated bacterial levels at local beaches.

The Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority, Riverside, Calif., developed a goal-oriented program to ensure the region is self-sufficient during drought cycles. To meet this goal, Santa Ana has secured $250 million to implement the following initiatives: water storage facilities; water quality improvement programs; water recycling programs; flood protection programs; wetlands, environment and habitat construction; and recreation and conservation programs.
The City of San Buenaventura, Ventura, Calif. adopted Ventura River Estuary Enhancement and Management Plan in 1994.  The Plan began with a multi-year study and planning process which resulted in the preservation of the Ventura River Estuary and its unique flora and fauna.  The project also created a new recreational and educational environment for  the community.
    Applications for the Clean Water Partners Awards were announced in the Federal Register in April 2002.  Each applicant completed a compliance screen and demonstrated a good compliance record.  Applications were reviewed by a panel including EPA, the Water Environment Federation, Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies and the National League of Cities.  For more information, log on to EPA's Office of Water Web site,