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Water Partnership Leaders

This Drinking Water Week (May 7-13) we salute the farms and ranches that partner with nearby communities on innovative solutions to providing clean drinking water.

Meet three recipients of the Leopold Conservation Award who are water partnership leaders from California, New York, and Texas.

THE JOHN BUNKER SANDS WETLAND CENTER is the epitome of what can come from collaboration. The center has increased the conservation literacy of thousands of students. It sits on a former cattle ranch that now hosts a 2,000-acre system of wetlands that provides drinking water for millions of Texans.

Nearly 90 million gallons of water are naturally filtered daily after spending a week to 10 days flowing through the system of 28 wetland cells. A pump station then transports the cleansed water through an underground pipeline to Lavon Lake for storage, and eventual delivery to municipal water utilities.


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BERETTA FAMILY DAIRY has long sought to improve California's water quality and quantity. Located in the ecologically and economically important Laguna de Santa Rosa watershed, the Berettas are innovators when it comes to recycling wastewater and preserving groundwater.

The Berettas have utilized the City of Santa Rosa’s reclaimed wastewater to irrigate their farm since 1981. Using recycled water annually eliminates the need to draw 45 million gallons of groundwater. Beretta Family Dairy also partnered in California’s first-of-its-kind, voluntary water quality credit trading project with Santa Rosa and the Sonoma Resource Conservation District in 2015.


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GREENFIELD FARMS and its neighbors have been improving water quality through a municipal-agricultural partnership for decades.

Thirty years ago nearby city leaders chose to begin working with farmers to improve water quality. Jim Greenfield was one of seven farmers who agreed to help encourage other landowners across the 37,952-acre watershed to voluntarily participate in the program.


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Greenfield Farms From Skan Lake

Sand County Foundation works to inspire and empower a growing number of private landowners to ethically manage natural resources in their care, so future generations have clean water, abundant wildlife habitat, and opportunities for outdoor recreation.

Sand County Foundation's Leopold Conservation Award celebrates the voluntary efforts of farmers, ranchers, and forestland owners who improve soil health, water quality, and wildlife habitat on their working lands. To read and watch more the inspiring stories of landowners who have received this recognition, click here.