Moulton Niguel Water District has been awarded the state’s highest environmental and economic honor for its efforts to protect local creeks, watersheds, and beaches from pollution, and doing so in the most cost-effective manner. The District was one of only ten entities in the state to receive the 2018 Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award during a special ceremony in Sacramento.

“We are incredibly humbled to accept this award on behalf of all of our customers,” said Joone Lopez, the District’s General Manager. “Our entire Moulton Niguel team is doing everything we can to protect our local environment and preserve Orange County’s natural habitats.”

In selecting Moulton Niguel for this honor, the California Environmental Protection Agency praised the District’s leadership in forming a public-private partnership to combat urban runoff through shared data, open communication, environmental education and public outreach.

“Moulton Niguel is a model for building public-private partnerships, sharing data and accelerating sustainable water solutions that could be used not only throughout California, but nationwide,” the CalEPA concluded in its award announcement.

This innovative project is tackling an issue that many water agencies and local governments are still facing: urban runoff.  Urban runoff is the toxic stream of excess irrigation water, dirt, chemicals and fertilizers that flow from streets and sidewalks into creeks, watersheds and ultimately the ocean. Pollution caused by dry weather and stormwater runoff is one of California’s most significant and costly environmental challenges. By developing a plan for mitigating urban runoff, Moulton Niguel is protecting our ocean and beaches from costly pollution.

First, the District developed a spatial mapping application that matches household water use with each neighborhood’s urban runoff. Then, Moulton Niguel brought together the County of Orange, environmental organizations, and the cities of Laguna Niguel, Laguna Hills, Aliso Viejo, and Mission Viejo to launch outreach and education programs to the communities most in need of assistance.

“Moulton Niguel has effectively designed a program that brings together local governments and non‐profit organizations to prevent runoff pollution,” said Don Froelich, President of the Moulton Niguel Board of Directors. “By sharing data and targeting outreach, Moulton Niguel is offering a comprehensive, long‐term path for changing behavior.”

State environmental leaders praised the District, along with other GEELA recipients, as a model for sustainable practices.

“This year’s GEELA honorees are examples of how innovation, determination and vision can address some of our most significant environmental challenges,” said CalEPA Secretary Matthew Rodriquez. “From fighting climate change to reducing waste, their successful efforts are proving that environmentally sustainable practices can grow and support a healthy economy.”

Established in 1993, the Governors’ awards are given to individuals, organizations and businesses that have demonstrated exceptional leadership and made notable, voluntary contributions to conserving California’s precious resources, protecting and enhancing our environment, building public-private partnerships and strengthening the state’s economy. For more information about the award, visit Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Awards.

Moulton Niguel Water District provides high-quality drinking water, recycled water and wastewater treatment services to customers in Aliso Viejo, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Hills, Mission Viejo, San Juan Capistrano and Dana Point. A leader in environmental protection, Moulton Niguel maintains the lowest average bill in South Orange County.