AWWA honored for fighting for water utilities, consumers and local communities

Association won top honors for best non-profit advocacy campaign at an awards ceremony sponsored by PR News, a leading trade publication of the public relations industry. It was recognized for its efforts on behalf of water utilities to keep the MTBE "Safe Harbor" provision out of the Energy Bill. If it became law, the provision would have saddled drinking water utilities, local communities, and ultimately consumers with an estimated $25-$29 billion in cleanup costs...



WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 4, 2004 -- The American Water Works Association (AWWA) on Tuesday won top honors for best non-profit advocacy campaign at an awards ceremony sponsored by PR News, a leading trade publication of the public relations industry. AWWA was recognized for its efforts on behalf of water utilities to keep the MTBE "Safe Harbor" provision out of the Energy Bill. If it became law, the provision would have saddled drinking water utilities, local communities, and ultimately consumers with an estimated $25-$29 billion in cleanup costs.

Of the AWWA campaign, PR News noted, "In a legislative battle worthy of the big screen, the AWWA took on the provision in the United States.Congress' national [energy] bill that would have placed the $25 billion in cleanup costs on drinking-water utilities and on consumer.

"The combination of grassroots mobilization, lobbying initiatives and media campaigns paid off. After a filibuster and efforts by opposition to attach the provision to other legislation, President Bush signed the energy bill on Aug. 8, 2005 - without the MTBE provision."

Before the fall of 2003, few people knew about the obscure provision that would grant gasoline makers "defective product liability immunity" in cases of water contaminated by the gasoline additive MTBE. Leading a broad coalition of civic and other organizations, AWWA began its campaign against the provision during the 108th Congress in 2003, and successfully influenced enough votes to keep the measure out of the 109th Congress' final Energy Bill. During that time, AWWA messages appeared prominently in news stories and editorials, and MTBE safe harbor became a key issue in the Energy Bill debate.

AWWA Executive Director Jack Hoffbuhr said, "This award highlights the tireless efforts of AWWA and its members to raise awareness of this egregious provision and ultimately defeat it in the final bill."

National publications and wire services pointed to MTBE as the critical issue that led to a filibuster of the Energy Bill in the 108th Congress, as well as the removal of the provision during the 109th Congress, which led to the bill's passage. The American Petroleum Institute, a major proponent of the provision, indicated in published correspondence that the industry was outmaneuvered at the grassroots level.

AWWA (www.awwa.org) is one of the most authoritative resource for knowledge, information, and advocacy to improve the quality and supply of water in North America and beyond. It's the largest organization of water professionals in the world. It advances public health, safety and welfare by uniting the efforts of the full spectrum of the water community.

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