The Groundwater Foundation presents its annual awards.

The Groundwater Foundation, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to educating citizens about the nature and value of ground water, annually presents national awards to honor ground water protection activities in distinct areas of achievement.

Youth Award

The W.C. Foxley-E.P. Taiganides Youth Award for Excellence and Leadership in Groundwater was created to recognize a youth or youth group for outstanding leadership and creation of innovative ground water protection projects that have the ability to be replicated by other students and the potential to empower the community to protect ground water. The Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) 2003-2004 Student Advisory Council has been selected as the recipients of this award.

The SNWA 2003-2004 Youth Advisory Council chose to focus on new home development as a water issue pertinent to its community. The students created a concept for a “water-smart” home and partnered with Pulte Homes to create a model home in a residential community development showcasing water conservation through water-smart landscaping and efficient indoor features. The Youth Advisory Council created and displayed signage throughout the home showcasing the home's water saving features and created a handout describing the home's indoor water-saving features as well as identifying the desert plants used in the landscape. During the grand opening event, students were on hand to greet visitors, give tours and discuss the water saving features.

Based on its experience in developing and implementing the water smart home project, the Youth Advisory Council recommended the SNWA implement a community-wide “Water Smart Home” or “Water Smart Neighborhood” program, extending the water-smart home concept throughout the Southern Nevada community. The students recommended a water drop recognition symbol or logo be used to identify a water-smart home, similar to the “Energy Star” concept. The council also recommended that the program include incentives for builders to make their communities and homes eligible for the water-smart designation.

Public Official

The E. Benjamin Nelson Government Service Award was established to recognize government officials who have significantly advanced environmental and ground water stewardship. U. S. Geological Survey Hydrologist Steve Vandas has been selected to receive the 2004 award. Since 1990, Mr. Vandas has worked on water education and outreach projects for the K-12 education community. Through his educational and outreach work, Vandas has developed numerous educational publications, worked with international, federal, state and local government agencies, and organizations and private educational associations to further the understanding of water resources.

Vandas was instrumental in developing a series of Water Resource Education Initiative posters. This partnership program produced a total of nine posters on various water-related topics for use by educators and as a public information product. All the posters in the series are full-color and designed to attach together, creating a large wall mural. Two versions of the posters were created for students in grade school and middle school. The reverse side of the posters in each version contains age-appropriate educational activities. In addition, four of the posters were translated into Spanish. Approximately 5 million of the posters have been distributed to educators around the world.

Vandas also developed 20 articles describing many different facets of water resources for use by educators. The National Science Teachers Association in their Science Scope and Science and Children magazines published many of these articles. Vandas authored a USGS open file report titled, “Water Resource Professional's Outreach Notebooks, Ground Water,” for use by water resource professionals in assisting instructors in the presentation of water resources to students. He also is a co-author of “Water and the Environment,” part of American Geological Institute's Environmental Awareness Series, which is intended to give the general public, educators and policy-makers information related to water resources and supplies.

Lead by Example

The Edith Stevens Groundwater Educator Award was established to recognize individuals who understand the importance of ground water, motivate others to protect ground water, and lead by personal example. Stuart Perlmeter, Water & Energy Learning Lab (WELL) project coordinator with the Springfield, Ore., school district has been selected to receive the 2004 award.

The awards were presented at an awards luncheon held in conjunction with the Groundwater Foundation's Annual Conference late last year, and are made possible in part by generous support from the ChevronTexaco Corp. For further information, contact the Groundwater Foundation at 402-434-2740 or visit