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SPU Receives National Environmental Awards

In the photo above, a NACWA representative holds the award and stands next to SPU General Manager and CEO Andrew Lee.

SPU’s Apprenticeship and RV Wastewater programs have received national honors for innovations in Workforce Development and Operations and Environmental Performance, respectively. SPU employees were in Austin, Texas, on February 14 as both programs accepted the 2024 National Environmental Achievement Awards from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA). 

The Apprenticeship Program was recognized for its 2020 re-design and re-launch. Alex Chen, SPU Deputy Director, noted the value of the program to SPU’s operations: “A strong apprenticeship program is critical to ensuring a sustainable source of capable, trained Utility staff. The redesign increased recruitment with diverse populations and centered frontline workers as trainers, instructors, and in program oversight.”

In 2020, SPU received more than 700 applications for the first apprenticeship class in nearly 7 years, and has just finished recruiting for its fourth class.

RV Wastewater and Apprentice crews at work.

Since 2020, SPU’s RV Wastewater Program has reduced pollution spills by conducting more than 5,000 RV wastewater pump outs. Before starting the program in 2020, SPU documented almost 110 RV sewage spills in 2019. By 2022, this number was down to 30.

SPU Deputy Director Ellen Stewart indicated that the program’s success and the NACWA award are rooted in the program’s design: “By focusing on people, we can provide a low-cost, effective pollution reduction program. Our approach to program design has been essential to this program’s success.”

Learn more about these programs: