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The Water Authority's Water News Network won a Bronze Bernays Award from the Public Relations Society of America San Diego/Imperial Chapter.

Water Agency Outreach Efforts Honored

The San Diego County Water Authority and three of its member agencies were recognized Dec. 17 by the Public Relations Society of America San Diego/Imperial Counties chapter for outstanding work in public outreach and education efforts.

The 2020 PRSA Bernays Awards were presented for communication on a variety of platforms, all designed to inform stakeholders and ratepayers about initiatives ensuring a safe and reliable water supply. Awards were presented virtually via live Twitter feed.

The Silver Bernays Award of Merit went to the Water Authority for "Engaging Hispanics on Water Quality Issues." Photo: PRSA SD/IC

The Silver Bernays Award of Merit for “Engaging Hispanics on Water Quality Issues.” Photo: PRSA SD/IC

The Water Authority received the Silver Bernays Award of Merit for Multicultural Public Relations for “Engaging Hispanics on Water Quality Issues,” and a Bronze Award of Merit in the Research/Evaluation category for “Researching Themes for Hispanic Outreach for Water Quality.” The agency’s Water News Network received a Bronze Award of Merit in the Websites category.

Earlier this year, the Water News Network was named “Best Website” among California public agencies in the California Association of Public Information Officials EPIC Awards competition. The website was also awarded first place as “Best Public Service or Consumer Advocacy Website” in the 2020 San Diego Press Club Journalism Awards.

“During the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was more important than ever for the Water Authority to intensify its efforts to communicate with our audiences and assure them that the virus was not transmitted through the public water system and the essential work to provide a safe, reliable water supply continued without interruption,” said Denise Vedder, director of the Water Authority’s Public Affairs Department.  “In partnership with our member agencies, the Water News Network and our Hispanic outreach initiative played a key role in achieving this goal, and it is rewarding to be recognized by PRSA San Diego/Imperial Counties chapter for those results.”

Water agency outreach wins recognition

Padre Dam Municipal Water District and the cities of San Diego and Oceanside also received awards for outreach and education programs.

City of Oceanside employees Carlos Raymundo (closest) and Shawn Alonzo view the award-winning Pure Water Oceanside wall art project. Photo: City of Oceanside

Oceanside employees Carlos Raymundo (front right) and Shawn Alonzo view the Pure Water Oceanside wall art project. Photo: City of Oceanside

The City of Oceanside and NV5 Inc. recognized in three categories for Pure Water Oceanside:

Silver Award of Excellence, Campaigns: Events and Observances – Less Than Seven Days – “Pure Water Oceanside is on the Map!”

Bronze Award of Merit, Creative Tactics – “Wall Art Tells Story of Water’s Past, Present, & Future”

Bronze Award of Merit, Video – “Pure Water Oceanside Video”

“The City of Oceanside is proud to put Pure Water Oceanside on the map,” said Cari Dale, water utilities director, City of Oceanside. “Once complete, Pure Water Oceanside will provide more than 30% of Oceanside’s water supply. Our staff and consultants are dedicated to providing Oceanside with innovative solutions to water reliability and continued water reuse education.”

The City of San Diego, along with Katz & Associates, received a Silver Bernays Award of Merit in Campaigns, Events, and Observances – Less Than Seven Days for its “2020 Pure Water San Diego Virtual Contractor Expo.”

City of San Diego Director of Public Utilities Shauna Lorance welcomes viewers to the new virtual tour. Photo: City of San Diego water agency outreach

City of San Diego Director of Public Utilities Shauna Lorance welcomes viewers to the new virtual tour. Photo: City of San Diego

“Outreach remains a key element of our Pure Water program,” said Shauna Lorance, director of public utilities for the City of San Diego. “When the pandemic made in-person engagement impossible, our community outreach and project management teams rose to the challenge and implemented a successful 2020 Pure Water Virtual Contractor Expo. Providing the personal outreach to potential contractors allows the contractors to develop the best bids possible and helps ensure a successful Pure Water project.”

The Padre Dam Municipal Water District won a Bronze Award of Excellence for its 2019 Annual Report.

The cover of the award-winning Padre Dam Municipal Water District 2019 annual report. Photo: Padre Dam MWD

The award-winning Padre Dam Municipal Water District 2019 annual report. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

“Padre Dam is proud of our communications team for the great thought, creativity, and appreciation of the District’s work that is put into projects like the annual report,” said Melissa McChesney, communications manager for the Padre Dam Municipal Water District. “They do all of this in order to share with our customers the important work and services we provide to our community.”

The SCOOP SD program and Tracks PR received a Silver Bernays Award of Excellence in Campaigns: Events and Observances – Less than Seven Days, Business, and a Bronze Bernays Awards of Merit in Creative Tactics, both for Sweet Relief for Small Biz During COVID.

The San Diego County Water Authority won multiple awards including a first place award for Best Public Service or Consumer Advocacy Website for its communication efforts from the San Diego Press Club. Water News Network

Water News Network Honored by San Diego Press Club

For the third consecutive year, the Water News Network was recognized as the Best Public Service/Consumer Advocacy Website for its public outreach and education by the San Diego Press Club. The website was established by the San Diego County Water Authority to bridge the gap in news coverage of water-related issues affecting the region.

The first place award was announced during the San Diego Press Club’s 47th annual Excellence in Journalism Awards event, which was live streamed from the San Diego Automotive Museum on October 27.

Among the largest annual competitions in the United States, San Diego’s finest reporters, photographers, writers, artists, and communicators were honored with the region’s top awards.

Water News Network: “timely and accurate information about water issues”

“We’re proud to share this award with our 24 member agencies who provide the majority of the original content on the Water News Network,” said Denise Vedder, public affairs director for the San Diego County Water Authority. “The collaboration with our member agencies and other organizations make possible the timely and accurate information about water issues, projects, and programs that affect 3.3 million people across San Diego County.”

The Water News Network received the following Press Club awards:

Websites, Public Service or Consumer Advocacy Site: First Place, Water News Network

Online/Daily Newspapers, Wildlife/Nature: Second Place, Water News Network, Ed Joyce, “Cooper’s Hawk Chick Gets Special Handling Near Pipeline 5 Project

Online/Daily Newspapers, Wildlife/Nature: Third Place, Water News Network, Kristiene Gong, “Wildlife Protected for New Underground Reservoir Project

Online/Daily Newspapers, Science/Technology/Biotech: Third Place, Water News Network, Ed Joyce, “Baking Skills Used For Repair at Lake Hodges Pumped Storage Facility

Online/Daily Newspapers, Series – Light Subject: Honorable Mention, Water News Network, Ed Joyce, “Water Utility Hero of the Week

Online/Daily Newspapers, Environment: Honorable Mention, Water News Network, Ed Joyce, “Water Year 2020 Begins With Robust Reservoir Storage

Earlier in 2020, the Water News Network was given an EPIC Award as the Best California Public Agency Website by the California Public Information Officers (CAPIO). The CAPIO EPIC Awards recognize the “best of the best” in government communications throughout the state. Winning entries demonstrate the most creative and effective efforts in the areas of communication and marketing campaigns, newsletter production, photography, special events, writing, website development, and video production.

The Water News Network was praised by the CAPIO EPIC Award judges for its initiative in producing original story content with its stakeholders in mind.

This year’s San Diego Press Club awards program drew more than 1,100 entries across multiple media categories. Judges included members of press clubs in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Rochester (New York), Florida, Cleveland, Orange County, Milwaukee, Tulsa, and Alaska.

“The San Diego Press Club Excellence in Journalism Awards celebrates professionals whose research, writing, reporting, and visual skills shed light on newsworthy topics that matter to us all,” said Albert Fulcher, 2020 San Diego Press Club president. “At a time when many Americans distrust the news media, I am proud of our organization’s 450 members and their commitment to truth and fairness with integrity, high standards, and ethical reporting.”

“I am also proud of our success at uniting journalism and public relations professionals while providing career-enhancing programs and networking opportunities for our members,” said Fulcher.

San Diego Public Agencies Win Communications Awards

Two public agencies in San Diego County were recently honored with communications awards by the California Public Information Officers, a statewide professional trade group of communicators from public sector agencies.

The City of San Marcos received CAPIO Epic Awards for its San Marcos Creek Project groundbreaking ceremony, held December 2019, as well as the project’s logo. The San Marcos Creek Project is a three-year, $104 million construction project to raise the roadways and bridges over San Marcos Creek.

“These awards are a testament to the importance we place on keeping our community informed and involved in key infrastructure projects,” said Tess Sangster, economic development director for the City of San Marcos. The city hired JPW Communications to execute communications activities for the San Marcos Creek project.

In addition, the San Diego County Water Authority was honored with an CAPIO Epic Award for its Water News Network website, launched in mid 2018. Judges lauded the website for keeping stakeholders in mind with design and original content and photos. The water authority said stories from the website are picked up by regional news media on a weekly basis, and the percentage of views generated through organic search has increased 454% since inception.

“Over the past two years, the Water News Network has become a timely and reliable source of news and information about a variety of water issues, projects and programs affecting more than 3.3 million across San Diego County,” said Denise Vedder, public affairs director. “We’re proud to collaborate with our member agencies on this and other outreach and education efforts about region’s most precious natural resource.”

Sweetwater Authority Wins Statewide Award for Hydro Station Education Experience

The Sweetwater Authority Governing Board on July 22 was presented with the California Association of Public Information Officials Award of Distinction for excellence in public information and communications. The water agency received the award earlier this month for its innovative communication for the Hydro Station Education Experience.

The Sweetwater Authority received CAPIO's EPIC Award earlier this month for its innovative communication for the Hydro Station Education Experience. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

Sweetwater Authority and Otay Water District Win Statewide Award for Hydro Station Education Experience

The Sweetwater Authority Governing Board on July 22 was presented with the California Association of Public Information Officials Award of Distinction for excellence in public information and communications. As a collaborative project with the Chula Vista Elementary School District, the Sweetwater Authority and the Otay Water District received the award from CAPIO earlier this month for innovative communications for the Hydro Station Education Experience.

The Hydro Station at Sweetwater’s Richard A. Reynolds Groundwater Desalination Facility,  hosts learning exhibits and hands-on activities to introduce 4,000 local students annually to the ecological cycle of water, water conservation, water quality, and careers in the water industry. The Hydro Station is made possible through a partnership between the Sweetwater Authority, Chula Vista Elementary School District, and the Otay Water District.

Hydro Station Education Experience opened in August 2019

Chula Vista fifth graders enjoy their first visit to the new Hydro Station educational facility. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

Chula Vista fifth graders enjoy their visit to the new Hydro Station educational facility. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

“It is exciting to be on a Board that values the importance of strategic partnerships,” said Governing Board Chair Steve Castaneda. “We are working with the Chula Vista Elementary School District and the Otay Water District to provide educational opportunities for students in our service area and to expose local children to a career path that could position them as tomorrow’s water leaders.”

The program opened in August 2019 after months of planning and collaboration with its partners.

The Authority’s Communications Committee Chair, José F. Cerda, is a long-time advocate of the partnership.

“As a former Chula Vista Elementary School District educator, I have seen the impacts that these sort of innovative classroom experiences can have on students and their families,” said Cerda. “I am so proud of the work that we are doing at the Authority and being an industry leader in creating and developing experiences for the children in our community.”

The Hydro Station will resume in a virtual format for students in the Chula Vista Elementary School District next month.

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Water News Network Named Best California Public Agency Website

The Water News Network website has been named “Best Website” among California public agencies for 2020 in the California Public Information Officers EPIC Awards competition.

The CAPIO EPIC Awards recognize the “best of the best” in government communications throughout the state. Winning entries demonstrate the most creative and effective efforts in the areas of communication and marketing campaigns, newsletter production, photography, special events, writing, website development and video production.

EPIC Award-CAPIO-San Diego County Water Authority-Water News Network

Water News Network Named Best California Public Agency Website

The Water News Network website has been named “Best Website” among California public agencies for 2020 in the California Public Information Officers EPIC Awards competition.

The CAPIO EPIC Awards recognize the “best of the best” in government communications throughout the state. Winning entries demonstrate the most creative and effective efforts in the areas of communication and marketing campaigns, newsletter production, photography, special events, writing, website development and video production.

Original news content praised by judges

The Water News Network received praise from competition judges for keeping all stakeholders in mind when creating the website, and for its initiative in producing original story content and photos. Other finalists in the Best Website/App category were the City of Santa Clara for its SantaClaraCA.gov website redesign; and Contra Costa County for its ‘Virtual Office’ entry.

“Over the past two years, the Water News Network has become a timely and reliable source of news and information about a variety of water issues, projects and programs affecting more than 3.3 million people across San Diego County,” said Water Authority Public Affairs Director Denise Vedder. “We’re proud to collaborate with our member agencies on this and other outreach and education efforts about region’s most precious natural resource.”

EPIC Award for Best Website/App revealed in package

In lieu of an awards ceremony, trophies were mailed to the winning entrants with results revealed upon being opened in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: CAPIO

In lieu of an awards ceremony, trophies were mailed to the winning entrants with results revealed upon being opened in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: CAPIO

The EPIC Awards honor work that transcends innovation and craft, work that made a lasting impact, providing an equal chance of winning to all entrants regardless of company or agency size and project budget.

Entries are assessed on research and planning efforts that display an understanding of audience objectives and needs for information; development and execution; and how successfully the entrant organization achieves its objectives.

This year’s CAPIO EPIC Awards program drew a record number of 275 entries in all categories from throughout the state of California.

The Water News Network has also won the Best Public Service or Consumer Advocacy Website category for the past two years in the San Diego Press Club‘s Annual Excellence in Journalism Awards.

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