The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in a recent press release, has announced the winners of its 2008 Water Efficiency Leaders Awards. Recognized for their contributions in reducing, reusing and recycling water through leadership, innovation and water saved, winners were named in the following categories: utilities, corporate/industry, individual, non-governmental organization, and government.

This year’s winners are:

Utilities:Pinellas County Utilities (Clearwater, Fla.) – Pinellas County is one of the most water-efficient utilities per capita at 89 gallons per person per day (gpd), versus the national average of 100 gpd. Since 1991, per capita efficiency has improved more than 40 percent.

Corporate/Industry:PepsiCo (Purchase, N.Y.) – PepsiCo has improved water efficiency across its brands and is on target to reduce water consumption per unit of production by 20 percent by 2015.

Corporate/Industry:Acequia (Austin, Texas) – Across the nearly 70 commercial properties for which it provides landscape irrigation, Acequia has sustained measured reductions of irrigation water by 54 percent since 2002.

Individual:Commissioner Robert J. Hunter (Atlanta, Ga.) – Under Commissioner Hunter’s leadership during recent droughts, the city’s 50 largest water customers cut their water consumption by 45 percent. Hunter also promoted water saving options and high efficiency toilet rebate programs to users and plumbers.

Nongovernmental Organization:Homewise, Inc. (Santa Fe, N.M.) – Homewise is recognized for smartly mixing consumer information, on-site homeowner installation assistance, marketing, and consumer lending into a unified program to reduce homeowner water consumption. In 2005, Homewise initiated its Watersmart Program, which as of May 2008 had helped 595 households reduce water use by an estimated 64 percent.

Government:Orange County Water District (Orange County, Calif.) – Orange County Water District is recognized for world leadership in wastewater purification for groundwater replenishment. Their system of replenishing groundwater can generate enough water to meet the needs of 500,000 people.

“Water is America’s greatest liquid asset,” said Benjamin H. Grumbles, EPA’s assistant administrator for water. “EPA commends these water champions for saving water and energy, and increasing the health and wealth of communities and ecosystems.”

More about the Water Efficiency Leaders: