The Great Lakes competition's finalists range from a small Wisconsin city to a large water authority serving 4 million residents


The Great Lakes Protection Fund (GLPF) and American Water Works Association (AWWA) recently announced the finalists in the Water Utility Energy Challenge (WUEC), an innovative program which engages water operators in a competition to reduce the emissions sourced in their energy generation. 

The inaugural 2017-’18 competition, focused on the Great Lakes Basin, is aimed at connecting the utilities with new innovative software while fostering an awareness of the associated emissions, particularly mercury.

The finalists are the District of Muskoka in Bracebridge, Ontario; the city of Highland Park (Illinois); the city of Ann Arbor (Michigan); the Great Lake Water Authority of Detroit, Michigan; Onondaga County Water Authority of North Syracuse, New York; and the city of Bayfield (Wisconsin).

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“We’re really excited with the breadth of the WUEC finalists,” said AWWA CEO David LaFrance. “They were chosen from a broad field of applicants and these six utility leaders represent a wide range of communities — from Bayfield, Wisconsin, which serves fewer than 1,000 residents, to the Great Lakes Water Authority, which serves more than 4 million residents in 125 communities across southeast Michigan. 

“The fact that there were both U.S. and Canadian finalists also illustrates that regardless of the operation’s scale or location, utilities can use the cleanest energy to deliver clean, safe drinking water to their customers,” he said.

David Rankin, vice president of programs for GLPF, said the finalists characterize the next generation of water utilities who will reduce emissions while improving the financial health of their systems. “We’re excited to see the geographic range of utilities across the entire Great Lakes Basin as well as a mix of water and combined water/wastewater systems. The competition is another step toward protecting and restoring the health of our shared Great Lakes waters.”

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The competition will run through April 2018, with award and cash prizes presented later in the spring. More information on the challenge can be found by visiting www.awwa.org/competition.

The WUEC is a technology competition focused on water utilities in the Great Lakes Basin. Offering two top cash prizes of $20,000 and $10,000, it is supported by the Great Lakes Protection Fund.


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