At a recent awards breakfast hosted by the American Water Works Association-New York Section (AWWA-NY) in Saratoga Springs, OCWA–Central New York’s Water Authority–was honored to receive two awards, the 2022 Safety Award in recognition of its “outstanding initiative in the area of safety improvement and injury prevention.” As well as, AWWA-NY’s 2022 Project of the Year.


AWWA Safety Award 2022

A few of the recent steps OCWA has taken to improve safety highlighted in the Awards package were:

  • OCWA added a second Vacuum Excavation Truck to our fleet of vehicles. The truck allows maintenance crews to make smaller excavations, which minimizes potential damage to other utilities and makes the process much safer for our workers.
  • Prior to OCWA’s Drone Program, our staff had various tasks that would require climbing Water Storage Tanks, Facility roofs, and investigate rough terrain for Transmission Main/Intake inspections. With the use of Drones, we have had many opportunities to reduce overall risk to our staff in these scenarios.
  • Another significant area of improvement was contracting the County Sheriff’s Department to assist with work zone traffic control. They are available to use 24/7 to assist the Authority when work is required in a busy intersection, high speed roadways, heavy trafficked roads etc.

At OCWA, we believe “Safety is everyone’s business” and have incorporated a top-down leadership management program.

As a result of these initiatives, OCWA has been able to significantly reduce the number of days employees are out of work over the past few years.  This has occurred thanks to the team approach at the Authority which has allowed employees to transition back to work as soon as medically reasonable.


AWWA Project of the Year 2022

For 53 years the Lake Ontario supply had no means of backup power. Reliant exclusively on water storage in the system, the Facility was vulnerable to a long-term regional power outage. Now the facility is capable of maintaining greater than average day production independent of the utility which greatly improves the resiliency of the regional water supply.

The Electrical Sub-Station Upgrades project accomplished replacement of critical electrical equipment at two high-voltage (115 kV and 34.5 kV) electrical substations serving Onondaga County Water Authority’s Lake Ontario water treatment plant, Raw Water and Clear Water Pumping Stations.

The work included two new 1750-kW diesel-fueled standby generators, a 450-kW natural gas standby generator, the replacement of disconnects, circuit breakers, surge arresters and medium-voltage switchgear and rehabilitation of existing substation transformers.

The facilities were originally constructed in 1967 and successfully served the facilities past their expected useful life expectancies. This project provided long term Power System resiliency while also establishing standby generation with a capacity of up to 27 MGD for operational redundancy.