Water Conservation Leadership Award

The Water Conservation Leadership Award recognizes an individual, business, group, or other organization that has demonstrated a commitment to protecting our water resources through water conservation. Any resident, business, group, or other organization in Athens-Clarke County is eligible to apply. 

Applications OPEN for the 2022 Leader in Water Conservation Award!

Congratulations to all the winners!

Normal HardwareAthens HardwareThe 2021 Water Conservation Leadership Award Winner for a Business is Athens Hardware and Normal Hardware. Both Athens Hardware and Normal Hardware have assisted the Water Conservation Office with promotions assisting our customers with wise water use. In the spring, they encourage Athens residents to love their shower, distributing free WaterSense-labeled showerheads provided to them by the Water Conservation Office. In 2021, over 400 showerheads made it into the hands of residents, reducing water use by an estimated 2.4 million gallons annually. They also assisted customers in flipping their flapper - toilet leaks are the biggest leaky culprit in the home, most often due to the faulty flapper. By guiding customers into the proper toilet flapper selection during our promotion, they reduced water loss by an estimated 2.2 million gallons annually. 

Dr. Brian Schwartz, Leader in Water Conservation for an Individual The 2020 Water Conservation Leadership Award Winner for an Individual is Dr. Brian Schwartz. He oversees a UGA research team in the production of TifTurf, a drought-tolerant bermudagrass. The turfgrass reduces water use by 38% over the most popular varieties. Want to experience the grass? Visit the quad at UGA North Campus and put your toes in it. Thank you, Dr. Schwartz, for your efforts to help us all use water efficiently while maintaining a beautiful lawn.


Cassidy Lord - Leadership in Water Conservation, AdvocacyThe 2019 Water Conservation Leadership Award Winner in Advocacy is Cassidy Lord. With nearly 10 years of involvement with water-based organizations in Georgia, Cassidy is a leader among water advocates. As president of the Upper Oconee Watershed Network and chair of the advocacy committee, she volunteers countless hours working on long-term forest conservation to protect local drinking water sources. Cassidy organized and hosted the Upper Oconee Forests and Drinking Water Forum in 2019, bringing people together with the goal of creating a drinking water fund in Upper Oconee Watershed.

Gregg Nagle- Leadership in Water Conservation, IndividualThe 2019 Water Conservation Leadership Award Winner for an Individual is Gregg Nagle and Merrily Dunn.  Gregg Nagle and Merrily Dunn (not pictured) exemplify wise water use with their recently built Earthcraft Certified (EC) home. EC is a residential green building program designed to work with the Southeast climate conditions. Gregg and Merrily installed 44 solar panels that do not require water in order to generate energy. Their home is fitted completely with WaterSense fixtures, using at least 20% less water than traditional fixtures. In addition, they installed a 50-year metal roof that collects rainwater to reuse in two storage tanks with a capacity of 770 gallons. 

Terrapin Beer Company- Leadership in Water Conservation, BusinessThe 2019 Water Conservation Leadership Award Winner for a Business is Terrapin Beer Company. Terrapin Beer Company has taken tremendous steps to be an example of sustainability in Athens. Inside the average brewhouse, it takes seven gallons of water to produce one gallon of beer. Through significant water-saving efforts, Terrapin uses about four gallons for every gallon of beer produced, October is water awareness month at the brewery and a portion of taproom proceeds go to Georgia River Network. Terrapin has also invested heavily in their wastewater pretreatment facility to mitigate the impact of its waste stream on our public utility collection system, ultimately helping to improve the quality of our local watershed.

Michael Brugger with Award

The 2018 Water Conservation Leadership Award Winner for an Individual is Michael Brugger. Conservation is an everyday lifestyle for Michael Brugger. He believes individual responsibility is a good start to conserving water on a larger scale. Mr. Brugger uses his water resources wisely both inside and outside his home. He limits showers to 5 minutes - and leaves polite notes to houseguests to honor Mother Earth and take shorter showers, too. Mr. Brugger only runs his dishwasher and washing machine when full and fills a basin to rinse dishes rather than running water. When leaving on vacation, he shuts off the water to prevent any drips or leaks. He uses rain barrels and mulches all his plants to reduce the need to water. If there’s a lack of rain, Michael collects water while showering for use in his yard and garden.

The 2018Kurt Kosloske with Award Water Conservation Leadership Award Winner for a Business is The Classic Center. As part of an energy performance contract, The Classic Center completed a significant water conservation project in 2018. The retrofit project included modifying restroom faucets, sinks, toilets, urinals, showers, ice machines, and chillers to higher conservation standards. Through this activity, The Classic Center expects to reduce their water use by 1.1 million gallons each year. The project is an excellent model for how to conserve resources in large public facilities.

The 2017 Leader in Water Conservation is Hilsman Middle School teacher, Audrey HughesAudrey HughesIn addition to teaching science full-time to 7th graders, this superstar is a sponsor of the Green Team, 7th Grade 4-H Club, and the Science & Energy Team. In 2017, she organized the annual Hilsmans Science Night, which brings together Athens organizations to educate over 250 attendees on how to reduce water & energy use. She arranges for the Water Conservation Office to bring Jack Golden, an edutainer, to the entire 6th grade class for a water related presentation. This conservation crusader is the most reliable and dependable resource the Athens Water Festival has. As she has done in years prior, she put her 2017 Science & Energy team into action as volunteers for the 800 people in attendance at the festival. She passes on her devotion to conservation and sustainability to the next generation, which is the best gift she can give to the planet for Earth Day. Thank you Audrey Hughes.

Outback Steakhouse is the winner of the 2016 Leadership in Water Conservation Award. Outback Steakhouse was one of the first businesses to participate in Athens’ Certified Blue Program for restaurants and it went above and beyond the requirements of the program.  They demonstrated their commitment to conservation by making significant changes in operations and equipment in their kitchen.  For example they invested in efficient drip wells, they no longer use water to thaw frozen food, and they installed foot pedals under frequently used sinks.  Since joining the Certified Blue Program and investing in water saving strategies, their water use has declined by about 27% , which comes out to more than 1,000 gallons a day.  

About 65,000 people work in Athens.  By targeting employees and customers of businesses, Certified Blue broadens the audience of the Water Conservation and increases contact time with residents.  These individuals will be encouraged to conserve while they work and shop, and they may take that message home with them if it is reinforced throughout the day. In addition to helping with outreach and education, all of Athens’ Certified Blue Restaurants undergo a water use assessment, retrofit water-wasting fixtures, and fix leaks.

Congratulations to Jim and Sandy Whitney, winners of the 2015 Leadership in Water Conservation Award! 

Jim and Sandy Whitney have been leaders in Water Conservation for many years. They made water conservation a priority by retrofitting their home with low-flow fixtures and having a plumber check for and repair leaks. The Whitneys have a strict policy to only run the washing machine and dishwasher when they are completely full.

While waiting for water to heat up in the shower, the Whitneys collect the cold water to prevent unnecessary waste. They use the collected cold water to flush their toilets, thus saving many gallons of water.

Conservation is practiced outside in their yard as well. The yard has been landscaped such that it does not require watering. Trees have been placed strategically to reduce heating and cooling costs and demand on resources. The backyard is terraced to help manage storm-water runoff.

Join us in commending the Whitneys for their excellent work as Leaders in Water Conservation in Athens-Clarke County!

Jim and Sandy Whitney


Congratulations to Pilgrim's, winner of the 2014 Leadership in Water Conservation Award!

 Many of our industries in Athens made permanent changes to their processes in response to the water shortage from the drought in 2007 and 2008. Pilgrim's industrial facility stands out as a leader among them. Pilgrim's is the largest single water user in Athens. In fact, they account for about 8% of our total water use. So any changes they make to improve water-efficiency saves a lot of water. Their efforts have made a significant impact on our water demands, making our community more resilient to drought and other stressors on our water supply.

Congratulations, Pilgrim's, and thank you for being a wise water user!

Past Winners

2013 - Hotel Indigo
2012 - Clarke County School District - Fowler Drive Elementary School Renovations
and the Gilles Allard Family

2011 - the Benson Hospitality Group
and Merial ltd.