The Water Quality Improvement Award is presented annually to the water quality improvement program that best demonstrates significant, lasting, and measurable excellence in water quality improvement or in prevention of water quality degradation in a region, basin, or water body.


  • Online Nomination Form
  • One page biography of the nominee
  • Specific reasons for nomination (one page maximum)
  • Any other supporting material required under criteria or that you feel would be helpful in the selection process.

WEF Membership Requirements for Application

The Nominator must be a current (not expired) WEF Member, in order for the Nominee to be considered for this Award. 

*If the nomination is being submitted by a Member Association (MA) or Community/Committee, please indicate the MA name or Community/Committee name within the application in lieu of a WEF Member ID #.

If needed, contact WEF’s Customer Service Center for WEF Member ID information: | 1-800-666-0206 | 703-684-2400 | International Members/Customers: 1-571-830-1545

Nominations Accepted From:

  • WEF Member Associations
  • WEF Members
  • WEF Committees

Nominations Deadline:

Application will be available annually on January 15 and close annually on March 31 at 11:59PM (Eastern).

Detailed Criteria for the Water Quality Improvement Award

Criteria for Nomination
1. The program must lie within the boundaries of one or more Member Associations sponsoring the nomination.
2. A program is eligible during a three-year period immediately after documented results become a matter of public record. Re-nomination is permitted at any time during this three-year period.
3. The entry must be submitted by a sponsor that is endorsed by the Member Association within whose boundary the head office of the sponsor is located. The sponsor should be the entity with the greatest and most direct responsibility for successful completion of the program.
     A. Examples of acceptable sponsors:
          a. The owner of the works that achieved the results meriting the programs nomination.
          b. Local, regional, state, or interstate agencies responsible for the creation, financing, implementation, and regulation of a program that involves numerous discrete projects with different owners.

     B. Examples of unacceptable sponsors:
          a. Legislative bodies.
          b. Federal agencies with second-tier responsibility for regulation or funding.

4. Specific programs may receive the award only once.
5. The award will be made for the program itself, rather than the entities responsible for the program development and implementation. The award is open to programs of any size. A plaque commemorating the award will be presented to the sponsor. The award citation will acknowledge all principal responsible entities that contributed to the success of the program.
6. The program must have achieved the qualifying results through construction and/or operation, rather than solely through the application of administrative procedures.
7. The following programs would have been eligible for entry if the award had existed at the time the programs were completed. They are cited here as examples of the type of program this award is intended to acknowledge.
     a. The Seattle Metropolitan Sewerage System and the consequent ecological recovery of Lake Washington. In this case the sponsor would logically have been Seattle Metro.
     b. The San Diego program that removed sewage discharges from San Diego Bay and resulted in the ecological recovery of the bay. In this case the sponsor would logically have been the city of San Diego.
     c. The Ocean County Utilities Authority (Bayville, New Jersey) program that cleaned up Barnegat Bay and the Atlantic beaches and restored large shell fishing areas.

How to submit an entry:

  • Nominations must be submitted by the Member Association no later than March 31.
  • Each Member Association may nominate one program each year. If more that one program within the boundaries of a Member Association is eligible for nomination, the Member Association shall make its own selection of the most suitable single entry for that year.
  • Each entry shall be submitted online by the sponsor, which will be used to screen the total number of entries to three or fewer. The finalists may be requested to submit additional information.

Application Requirements
Entry material must be submitted online. Each entry shall contain all the information identified below, and only that information.  The nomination must include:
     1. A one-paragraph letter of transmittal from the Member Association placing the entry in nomination.
     2. The name and location of the program being placed in nomination.
     3. The name of the sponsor.
     4. The name, address, and telephone number of the representative of the sponsor who will be responsible for supplying additional information about the program
     5. A one-page executive summary of the program.
     6. A definition of the water quality problem that the program has controlled, including quantitative information on the problem.
     7. A description of the program, including:
          a. Chronology from the definition of the problem to the completion of the project or program.
          b. The principal entities directly involved in the program.
          c. The population and area served or protected by the program, including a map if appropriate.
          d. The surface or ground water bodies protected.
          e. A description of the salient features and function of the program.
          f. A description of the objectives of the program and how they were met.
          g. The program's total cost and financing method.
          h. The date the program was completed or placed in operation.
8. Documentation of the beneficial effects of the program, focusing on water pollution control through either prevention or correction.
Items 6, 7, and 8 should be presented in not more than ten double-spaced pages of text, exclusive of graphics. Unusual expense in preparing the graphics of the submittal is not necessary. Items 1 through 8 will be used by the Awards Subcommittee to screen the entries to three or fewer finalists. Each finalist may be requested to submit the following supplemental information by May 31:

1. High quality black and white photographs of the program or project, including at least one aerial view.
2. A set of ten color slides illustrating the program and, to the extent possible, "before" and "after" water quality conditions. It is strongly suggested that all photographs and slides be prepared by a professional photographer.
3. A press release, up to two pages, double-spaced, describing the program and its results. The press release should be written to communicate with the general public, not a professional audience.
4. The name of a representative of the sponsor who can be contacted for additional public relations information.
All entries, including photographs, will become the property of the Water Environment Federation and will not be returned.


Questions or Comments?

Contact: Rebecca Culhane
Manager, Awards and Scholarships
Phone: 1 + (703-684-2400) x7070