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Resilient Water Agency of the Year

For the governmental agency or water utility that offered the most robust or innovative response to the unique challenges of 2020 for the water and wastewater sector.

Public Utilities Board, Singapore

What is it?

PUB is Singapore’s national water agency, responsible for the entire water supply and sewerage system. PUB manages water supply in an integrated way, using local catchment water, imported water, high-grade reclaimed water and desalinated water to overcome water scarcity and supply Singapore’s 5 million residents.

What has it done?

Early in 2020, PUB implemented a crisis management plan to ensure business continuity and the safety of customers and staff in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. By maintaining business continuity, it was able to pursue the reinforcement its integrated water management model to increase resilience to climate change and the ever-present water scarcity issues faced by Singapore.

What makes it special?

As well as ensuring business continuity during the COVID-19 crisis by implementing remote working, physical distancing, and sanitation measures to protect staff and customers, the utility also collaborated with the National Environment Agency on its wastewater surveillance for COVID-19 program. PUB was also appointed a WHO collaborating centre for safe management of drinking water for a third consecutive term in 2020.

In April 2020, PUB was appointed as Singapore’s National Coastal Protection Agency. The role involves developing strategies to safeguard Singapore’s coastline from the threat of rising sea levels and intense rainfall, using water expertise to strengthen the city’s overall resilience to climate change.


The utility continued long-term strategies to secure Singapore’s water supply in 2020. This included commencing operations at the innovative Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant, capable of producing 137,000 cubic metres of drinking water a day, and adopting smart tools to detect and pre-empt pipe leaks.


Orange County Water District, USA

What is it?

Formed in 1933, Orange County Water District is a bulk water utility that manages and protects water supply from the Santa Ana river and Orange County’s groundwater basin. It supplies groundwater to 19 water districts that serve 2.5 million customers in north and central Orange Country, California. OCWD also manages the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS), the world’s largest water purification system for indirect potable reuse.

What has it done?

Defying the COVID-19 pandemic, OCWD focused on long-term objectives to strengthen the reliability and safety of Southern California’s water supply. This included securing financing for the final expansion of the GWRS, by obtaining two loans from the EPA and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, and launching initiatives to address PFAS contaminations in groundwater basins.

What makes it special?

The GWRS, the world’s largest water purification system for indirect potable reuse, replenishes the county’s groundwater basin and remains highly reliable even during times of drought. With the intensity and frequency of droughts in California likely to increase as a result of climate change, the expansion of the GWRS will enable OCWD to be more resilient to water scarcity issues.

OCWD is taking proactive steps to address the increasingly visible threat of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) contaminations in the groundwater supply by launching the largest pilot testing program to test PFAS treatment and removal techniques. The utility plans to construct PFAS treatment plants which it will aim to have online in the next two to three years.


In the face of the COVID-19 crisis, OCWD implemented an extremely effective digital communication strategy to keep the public informed about the utility’s operations. This included a digital COVID-19 information centre, virtual tours of the GWRS facility to replace in-person tours and free monthly webinars.

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