CARLSBAD — Former Carlsbad City Council member Ann Kulchin received an award from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) for her achievements while working as a member of the Encina Wastewater Authority (EWA) Board of Directors for 22 years.
Encina General Manager Kevin Hardy nominated Kulchin for the 2013 National Environmental Achievement Award because of her leadership on landmark projects for EWA.
“When Ann came in, she was in many ways breaking ground for women. She was one of the very few women on the (EWA) board. She not only stuck with it over 22 years, but she led the board on many initiatives for Carlsbad,” Hardy said.
Kulchin said that Hardy’s nomination, “looked like my water obituary.”
She insisted that credit goes to the entire EWA board.
“It’s always ‘we.’ You can’t do anything without other people,” she said.
Kulchin was first elected to City Council in 1980 and was one of the first women to join the Encina board, which consists of representatives from the cities of Carlsbad, Vista and Encinitas, the Vallecitos Water District, Buena Sanitation District and Leucadia Wastewater District.
While on the EWA board, Kulchin contributed to projects that improved the authority’s cleaning of wastewater and protection of the ocean.
In the early 1980s, she worked to secure investment in secondary treatment of sewage at EWA’s facilities.
Hardy said that at the time, environmentalists were unsure of the effectiveness of secondary treatment.
But today, EWA facilities remove more than 96 percent of solids from sewage treated at the plant.
He said that Kulchin also played a role in expansions to EWA’s facilities over the years. The most recent expansion developed new methods of processing the plant’s wastewater solids, which now produce biosolids that are sold as biofuel and fertilizer.
Kulchin grew up on Long Island Sound and witnessed beaches there becoming more and more polluted.
As a member of the EWA board, she said she was determined not to let Carlsbad’s beaches experience the same fate.
“I want to make sure that our Carlsbad beaches stay (clean and clear),” she said.
Kulchin was the only NACWA award recipient this year from California.
She retired from City Council in 2012. Currently, council members Keith Blackburn and Lorraine Wood serve on the EWA Board for Carlsbad.