The City of Los Angeles’ Stormwater Program is proud to be the recipient of a National Environmental Achievement Agency (NEAA) Award from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), for outstanding achievement in the Stormwater E-Media Program. The prestigious NEAA Award recognizes Los Angeles’ E-Media Program for its innovation in educating and engaging residents and stakeholders through a multi-pronged approach that includes web sites, a Facebook page, an e-newsletter and blog.

Los Angeles’ Bureau of Sanitation’s Assistant Director Adel Hagekhalil was present at the July 20, 2010 evening award ceremony held in San Francisco, CA to receive the award. Recently, LA Stormwater sat down with Adel to ask him a few questions about the award, its significance to the City and future plans.

LA Stormwater: What do you see as the significance of LA Stormwater receiving this award?

Adel: NACWA’s Public Information & Education Awards honor agencies for inventive efforts to inform and involve their communities. Receiving this prestigious national award confirms that we at the Bureau of Sanitation are national leaders in our environmental programs providing first class service deserved by a first class city. We share this national award with our many clean water partners across the Country.

Since stormwater pollution is mainly incidental to poor human behavior, public outreach and education continue to be important tools in mitigating stormwater pollution. The NACWA award signifies and recognizes the City’s effort on this matter, and the leadership role that the City is playing in this worthwhile endeavor.

LA Stormwater: Do you have experience with social media? How do you see it helping the City’s efforts?

Yes, I use Facebook, Twitter, e-groups, etc. as part of my personal life and at work. Social media is today’s way of communicating with a vast majority of the City population. Consequently, we at the Bureau are taking advantage of this communication tool to reach our targeted audiences. We believe that more City residents are relying on the internet to get their information. Most of our audiences are members of the younger generation who rely on social media and electronic communication tools. Furthermore, it is a very cost effective method in today’s world where so much emphasis is placed on cost-conscious policies.

LA Stormwater: What other award winning projects caught your eye at the NACWA ceremony?

Adel: All of the awards were very innovative and creative, but two of the projects that caught my eye were:

- The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District’s Greenseams Video that uses real-life examples of green infrastructure to educate the public on cost-effective ways in which the utility is addressing the complex issues of water pollution, stormwater run-off, and flooding. This compelling educational tool uses vibrant photography and easy to understand storytelling to illustrate the natural, environmentally beneficial solutions that the Greenseams Program offers.

- The Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County’s creative campaign entitled Wrongville/Rightville. This informative community outreach program utilized newspaper advertisements and posters to educate school children and the general public about the watersheds of Los Angeles County, and what they can do to keep them clean.

LA Stormwater: What does the future hold for the Los Angeles Stormwater’s E-Media Program?

Adel: We are planning a complete redesign of our web site in 2011. This web site was on the cutting edge of e-media when it was first developed 12 years ago in 1998. We are excited to utilize new technology to freshen up the site and create a resource that will continue to educate and inform the three million people that visit the site annually.