The Water Research Foundation Honors Outstanding Water Research Leaders

Jun 17, 2024
Press Release

(Denver, CO) 6/17/24 – The Water Research Foundation (WRF) has awarded the 2024 Research Innovation Award to Dr. Paul Westerhoff and the 2024 Subscriber Impact Awards to Cape Fear Public Utility Authority and Great Lakes Water Authority.

WRF’s Subscriber Impact Award honors subscribing utilities that have made notable improvements to their treatment, delivery, and/or management processes through the successful application of WRF research. The Research Innovation Award recognizes researchers who have made significant contributions to advancing the science of water through research sponsored by WRF.

Paul Westerhoff, PhD, is a Regents Professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering at Arizona State University. Dr. Westerhoff has been an innovative force in water since the early stages of his career, receiving the Paul L. Busch Award from WRF in 2006 for his research on the removal of engineered nanomaterials during wastewater treatment, which led to the development of new analytical methods. Dr. Westerhoff has led 14 WRF projects as Principal Investigator and has served on Project Advisory Committees for nine WRF projects.

“WRF has been integral to my career journey, extending from funding my PhD under Dr. Gary Amy in the early 1990s to ongoing projects today with fabulous collaborators,” said Dr. Westerhoff. “These projects spanned a wealth of topics, including oxidation, emerging pollutants, disinfection byproducts, and natural organic matter. Through its Unsolicited Research Program, WRF has facilitated high-risk endeavors that allowed me and many others to push the frontiers of drinking water research.”

Based in Wilmington, North Carolina, Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) became a WRF subscriber in 2008, although CFPUA staff have participated in WRF projects since 1986. Since becoming a subscriber, CFPUA has contributed to 13 WRF projects, 13 Project Advisory Committees, and is currently involved in two active research projects. Its contributions to WRF research have largely impacted the world of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), as its 2017 pilot study on potential treatment processes to remove PFAS at one of its water treatment plants was the first of its kind. CFPUA's dedication to continuous improvement and transparent communication is reflected in their new branding campaign, "Clearly Better Water."

Upon receiving the award, Carel Vandermeyden, PE, Deputy Executive Director at CFPUA said, “Participation in research leading to practical solutions that benefit our customers and help overcome challenges facing the water industry has long been a focus of staff at CFPUA, so it is particularly gratifying to see that work recognized with the Subscriber Impact Award.”

The second Subscriber Impact Award celebrates Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA). Serving over 3.9 million constituents and more than 115 communities, GLWA is a leader in the Great Lakes region and beyond. GLWA’s research portfolio with WRF covers many topics, including pipeline management, wastewater, disinfection, artificial intelligence, workforce development, algal blooms, and more. Having completed 11 WRF projects, and with 20 active projects underway, GLWA has made an unprecedented impact on WRF research and the science of water.

"The Great Lakes Water Authority is proud to support WRF and its efforts to improve research collaboration across utilities, consultants, academics, and vendors,” said Suzanne R. Coffey, PE, Chief Executive Officer at GLWA. “Our team members at GLWA have benefited from their involvement in dozens of projects over the years covering everything from basic research to workforce development. I encourage all utilities to get involved with WRF research projects. We are not competitors; instead, we are collaborators. Let’s learn from each other to develop the future solutions to current problems.”

WRF congratulates the 2024 award recipients—Dr. Westerhoff, CFPUA, and GLWA—and thanks them for their leadership, dedication, and support. WRF is eternally grateful for the opportunity to partner with all subscribers to bring extraordinary water research to life and benefit communities around the world.