WRF announces innovation, research awards

June 22, 2022
The Water Research Foundation announced the winners of its Dr. Pankaj Parekh Research Innovation Award and its Outstanding Subscriber Awards for Applied Research at this year’s ACE22 conference.

The Water Research Foundation (WRF) has announced several awards, recognizing achievements in the water sector, at its annual Subscriber Appreciation and Awards Breakfast at the American Water Works Association’s (AWWA) conference ACE22 in San Antonio, Texas.

WRF has awarded the 2022 Dr. Pankaj Parekh Research Innovation Award to Dr. Jack Kiefer, senior associate for Hazen and Sawyer. The foundation also awarded three Outstanding Subscriber Awards for Applied Research to the Metropolitan Wastewater Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD), Gwinnett County Water Resources, and EPCOR Water Canada.

“WRF’s success wouldn’t be possible without our outstanding partnerships with leading utilities and individuals like those honored here today,” said Peter Grevatt, Chief Executive Officer of WRF. “Dr. Kiefer and the professionals at MWRD, Gwinnett County, and EPCOR have been key players in our mission to protect public health and the environment through the advancement of sound science. We celebrate their work and thank them for their great leadership and contributions.”

Dr. Pankaj Parekh Research Innovation Award

The Dr. Pankaj Parekh Research Innovation Award honors researchers who have advanced the science of water through WRF-sponsored projects. The award is named after Parekh, who dedicated his life to ensuring safe drinking water and protecting public health.

Jack Kiefer has dedicated his career to exploring factors that impact water use and water demand in the urban sector, including climate change, economic recessions, and specific customer categories. He has served as a key researcher on nine WRF research projects since 1999, including two of WRF’s most popular projects ever: Residential End Uses of Water, Versions 1 and 2.

Through his research, he has demonstrated research innovation, and most importantly, knowledge that can be applied by utilities to improve future planning and resilience.

“Winning this award is a real honor and a product of a lot of hard work and collaboration with many people,” said Kiefer. “There are typically points in life when you might expect something and you don’t get it, and then other times when you’re surprised with something great but did not expect it. The Research Innovation Award is one of those delightful surprises.”

Outstanding Subscriber Awards for Applied Research

WRF’s Outstanding Subscriber Award for Applied Research honors subscribing utilities that have successfully applied WRF research to make notable improvements to their water treatment, delivery, and/or management processes.


The MWRD provides wastewater treatment and stormwater management services to almost 13 million people every day across their 882-square mile service area.

Since 1990, the MWRD has been directly involved in 22 WRF research projects and the agency is involved in nine ongoing studies. The MWRD is currently participating on WRF projects investigating enhanced biological phosphorus removal, intelligent water systems, utility innovation, PFAS, and other important topics.

“We have supported The Water Research Foundation since the beginning, and winning this award is a significant recognition,” said Dr. Heng Zhang, Assistant Director of Monitoring and Research at MWRD. “WRF’s mission to advance the science of water to improve the quality of life is exactly what we at the MWRD also want to accomplish.”

Gwinnett County Water Resources

Gwinnett County Water Resources manages drinking water, stormwater, and wastewater services for almost one million residents. Their dedication to innovation is demonstrated by the establishment of their innovation center, The Water Tower.

Gwinnett County has been involved in 40 WRF research projects, 20 of which are ongoing studies. Gwinnett has participated in projects on cyanobacteria, smart water networks, biofiltration for reuse, and many more topics.

“Gwinnett County has always been honored to be a part of the WRF family,” said Tyler Richards, Director of the Department of Water Resources at Gwinnett County. “We’ve put a lot of resources into research collaboration because we think it is key for solving problems that the industry faces. This award encourages us to participate more in research collaboration to help us find the solutions for future problems.”

EPCOR Water Canada

EPCOR Water Canada got its start in 1891 as the Edmonton Electric Lighting and Power Company. Since then, EPCOR has diversified its services to include drinking water, wastewater, electricity, drainage, and natural gas services across Canada and the southwestern United States.

EPCOR has been involved in over 50 WRF research projects.

“EPCOR Water is honored to receive this award,” said Jeff Charrois, Senior Manager, Analytical Operations and Process Development for EPCOR Water Canada. “We see great value in the work of the WRF, its long history of advocating for the water and wastewater sector, and its role as a catalyst for innovation and change. EPCOR has often relied on the Foundation’s exceptional work to support our evidence-based decision making and we look forward to further collaboration on research projects that nurture the evolution of our industry and help customers in the communities we serve.”

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