NEW Water "breaks tradition" and honors Nancy Quirk of Green Bay Water with NEW Watershed Champion Award
Green Bay Water Utility was first in the nation to remove lead service lines
(GREEN BAY – March 22) The 8th annual NEW Watershed Champion ceremony has broken tradition.
Nancy Quirk, P.E., General Manager of the Green Bay Water Utility, was honored in a surprise virtual call by Tom Sigmund, Executive Director of NEW Water, and Kathryn Hasselblad, President of the NEW Water Commission, and Commissioner for Green Bay Water Utility. For the past seven years, the two utilities have jointly given this award to a community member for their efforts to improve area waters.
“We had to break tradition this year,” said Sigmund. “What Nancy and her team at Green Bay Water have done with lead line removal is so important to this community, and nothing short of remarkable.”
The Green Bay Water Utility is the first in the nation to voluntarily remove all known public and private lead service lines. In the wake of the lead crisis in Flint, Michigan, Quirk aggressively pursued lead service line removal for Green Bay; the last line was removed earlier this year. The alternative to physically removing pipes from the ground would have been the addition of a chemical called orthophosphate, which cities across America use to “coat” pipes, preventing water from picking up lead particles. In Green Bay, NEW Water works hard to protect the Fox River from additional phosphorus, and appreciated the Green Bay Water Utility’s decision to remove lead lines rather than adding a chemical,
“When we removed that last lead line, I felt a sense of relief that we made good on our promise to protect public health, and that our decision did not negatively affect our watershed.,” said Quirk. “I am humbled to receive this honor.”
Kathryn Hasselblad praised Quirk’s leadership, ethics and commitment to protecting area waters. Learn more about Green Bay Water Utility’s efforts to remove lead here. Earlier this month, Nancy also was named to join the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Drinking Water Advisory Council. Watch the NEW Watershed Champion surprise award video.
NEW Water and Green Bay Water first teamed up in 2014 to celebrate World Water Day (www.worldwaterday.org),a commemorative event launched by the United Nations in 1993 to bring awareness to global water issues. The two water entities honor World Water Day to call attention to local water issues, including aging infrastructure and impairments, and to celebrate the efforts of a local champion in caring for the watersheds of Wisconsin, through the NEW Watershed Champion Award.
Quirk and Sigmund are both recognized national leaders in the water industry, active in bringing attention to the importance of water to Northeast Wisconsin. Sigmund serves on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (www.nacwa.org), and Quirk served on the Water Utility Council for American Water Works Association (www.awwa.org).
“I am so proud of the important work done to recognize the value of water here in our community,” Quirk said. “Collaboration with NEW Water is essential to our combined success, and we make a great team.”
Past NEW Watershed Champion Award recipients include Dr. Kevin Fermanich of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay for a career dedicated to improving area water quality, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for leading PCB remediation efforts of the Fox River, and Brickstead Dairy for conservation efforts on their family farm, and Charlie Frisk, science educator and President of the Baird Creek Foundation. Learn more about past recipients here.
The theme of this year’s World Water Day is “Valuing Water.” Learn more about ways you can “Value Water” every day here.