All GCA Wastewater Treatment Facilities Honored with Prestigious NACWA Peak Performance Awards

HOUSTON, September 7, 2021 – All Gulf Coast Authority (GCA) wastewater treatment facilities were recognized for their 2020 performance by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) with Peak Performance Awards. For the sixteenth consecutive year, GCA facilities were honored by NACWA (with awards being received as far back as 1990 from AMSA, NACWA’s predecessor organization) for excellence in operational performance and permit compliance.

  • Bayport l Wastewater Treatment Facility – Gold;
  • Blackhawk Municipal Wastewater Treatment Facility – Gold;
  • 40-Acre Industrial Wastewater Treatment Facility – Gold;
  • Odessa Municipal and Industrial Wastewater Treatment Facility – Gold; and
  • Washburn Tunnel Industrial Wastewater Treatment Facility – Silver.

“In a year with pandemic challenges, GCA is proud that all of its facilities were nationally recognized for their performance and commitment to protecting the waters of the state of Texas. Our workers provide essential services for our communities, industry, and the environment. And the essential nature of our business was highlighted during the pandemic,” said Liz Fazio Hale, GCA General Manage/CEO.

Peak Performance Awards are provided to outstanding clean water utilities that have demonstrated operational excellence with no more than five permit violations in a calendar year for Silver, and, for our Gold Award winners, zero violations. For nearly 50 years, NACWA has been the nation’s recognized leader in advancing sustainable and responsible policy initiatives that help shape a strong and sustainable clean water future. NACWA seeks to fulfill this mission through its national recognition/awards program, its clean water advocacy and communications, and its peer-to-peer utility network to share best practices from coast-to-coast.

GCA is a governmental entity created by the Texas legislature in 1969 with the broad charge to protect the waters of the State of Texas. GCA has the authority to own and operate regional industrial and municipal wastewater treatment facilities, water systems, and solid waste facilities statewide, as well as the ability to provide bond financing services. For more information, please visit

Media Contact:
Keith Hardcastle, Public Information Officer
(281) 488-4115 |

Gulf Coast Authority’s Technical Services Director Levine to Retire – Sandhu to take role in early 2022

After 40-plus years at Gulf Coast Authority, Technical Services Director Leonard Levine will be retiring, effective February 2022. Jonathan Sandhu, currently Assistant Director – Technical Services, will be promoted to the role following Levine’s retirement.

“Leonard has been instrumental in the many industrial wastewater treatment innovations GCA has pioneered over the past decades,” said Elizabeth Fazio Hale, GCA Chief Executive Officer/General Manager. “His creative approaches and practical solutions – as well as his willingness to share his expertise with others – has burnished both his and the Authority’s reputation for protecting the waters of Texas.”

Levine graduated with a degree in environmental engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1972 just before passage of the Clean Water Act, putting him on the front lines of the revolution in wastewater treatment. From the development of new technologies for sources to building practical applications to training operators, Levine has done it all in almost 50 years in the field. Joining GCA in 1980, he has served as Technical Director for the past 20 years where he has oversight of technology selection, design, and operation for all GCA facilities. He has pioneered many treatment technologies and regulatory efforts, including disinfection methods, emission controls, innovative pH adjustment methods, and produced water regulations.

“Leonard has been instrumental in helping build the Authority’s industry-leading capabilities as GCA grew in its mission,” said Gordon Pederson, GCA’s Chief Technical Officer. “His understanding of process, engineering prowess, and creative flair have helped him and his team problem-solve and develop innovative technological approaches that have since been adopted across the field.”

His service has been recognized most recently with the Water Environment Association of Texas’ (WEAT) Winfield S. Mahlie Award for significant contributions to the art and science of wastewater treatment and water pollution control.

“Being part of the early days of industrial wastewater treatment – and particularly serving in the only large industrial wastewater treatment entity in the U.S. – has made for a fascinating career,” Levine said. “Looking back, there are many firsts to be proud of – GCA truly was and is a pioneer in this space. I am excited to see what the future holds in the wastewater and water treatment arena and look forward to GCA continuing its tradition of cutting-edge approaches to balancing the environment and the economy.”

Upon Levine’s retirement, Sandhu will be promoted to Technical Director. He joined GCA in 2020 from Brown and Caldwell, where he was Industrial Water Chemical and Energy lead, providing water/wastewater treatment consulting to refineries, chemical and petrochemical facilities, and served as its Houston Office Leader.

Gulf Coast Authority ( was created by the Texas Legislature in 1969 to protect the waters of the state of Texas through environmentally sound, economically feasible and technologically advanced wastewater and water management practices. GCA provides regional industrial and municipal wastewater treatment services, solid waste management, industrial water services, and financial services – all with the goal to protect the environment, preserve water resources, and promote industrial development for a strong economy.

Traweek Named to Gulf Coast Protection District

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has named Lori Traweek, former General Manager of the Gulf Coast Authority, to the Gulf Coast Protection District (GCPD) Board of Directors. The GCPD Board will be compromised of six Governor appointments and five appointees with one from each of the following counties: Orange, Jefferson, Chambers, Harris, and Galveston. The Texas Legislature recently passed Senate Bill 660 related to the creation of the District to operate and leverage funding for the unique flood control and surge protection system needed to protect coastal industry and communities.

The coastal protection project is anticipated to be the largest civil works project for the Army Corps of Engineers in US history. The District will be expected to leverage up to $30 billion in federal funds for the benefit of projects in the aforementioned coastal counties. As Texas ports handle approximately 65% of all US cargo and produce, the funds are designated to protect not only the Texas coast but also the national economy.

“This project will go down in history as one of the most significant measures to protect Coastal Texas, its citizens, and the economic activities this region provides,” said Governor Abbott. “Strengthening our coastal regions and ports is vital not only to Texas but to the entire nation.”

“I am honored to be named by Governor Abbott to serve on the board of the Gulf Coast Protection District,” said Traweek. “It is a unique opportunity to serve our citizens, our industry, and the environmental needs of this important coastal region.”

Traweek is the current Chair of the Galveston Bay Foundation, President of the Texas Conservation Fund, and board member of the Texas Water Trade.

The Office of the Texas Governor news release can be found here.

Gulf Coast Authority Board of Directors Recognizes Employees

Gulf Coast Authority (GCA) Board of Directors passed resolution 2021-02 recognizing and honoring employees for their efforts during the winter storms of February 2021. The resolution states, “GCA employees exhibited exceptional commitment, expertise, and great teamwork that foster safe and rapid recovery of GCA facilities under these extraordinary circumstances.”

Winter storms Uri and Viola hit Texas hard in February of 2021, leaving millions without power and water. As citizens struggled to stay warm and find potable water supplies, GCA employees were on the frontline serving communities and industries to keep our environment clean of unpermitted wastewater discharges.

“It is times like these that we must recognize the heroic efforts of our employees who are essential workers,” said Frank Jones, Chairman of the Board of Directors. “Our personnel are essential workers who worked to meet the mission under very challenging circumstances,” added Liz Fazio Hale, CEO/GM. “For that we are all very thankful.”



WHEREAS, in mid-February 2021, the State of Texas experienced back-to-back Winter Storms Uri and Viola which brought unprecedented low temperatures and state-wide power outages; and

WHEREAS, the combination of the ice storms and prolonged power outages caused substantial damage to private and public infrastructure, including the facilities owned and operated by Gulf Coast Authority; and

WHEREAS, during the storms, GCA managers, operators, and maintenance technicians came together, sacrificing their own personal challenges, to keep GCA from suffering extensive damage to its facilities; and

WHEREAS, GCA employees exhibited exceptional commitment, expertise, and great teamwork that fostered safe and rapid recovery of GCA facilities under these extraordinary circumstances; and

WHEREAS, in the aftermath of the winter storms, GCA employees continue to work efficiently and as a team to identify damages and assess compliance issues brought about by the events; and

WHEREAS, the Board of Directors of GCA desires to acknowledge the extraordinary efforts of all GCA staff;

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Directors of the Gulf Coast Authority, hereby recognizes the extraordinary efforts of its employees, especially those employees who “rode out” the storms distinguishing these individuals as Weather Warriors, and honors all of our essential employees for their efforts during and after the significant damage to property and threat of personal safety brought by Winter Storms Uri and Viola.

PASSED, ADOPTED AND APPROVED this 13th day of MAY, 2021.

Latimer Achieves Development Finance Professional Certification

Carrie Latimer, Financial Analyst for Gulf Coast Authority (GCA), recently completed the Development Finance Certified Professional program sponsored by the Council of Development Finance Agencies (CDFA). CDFA announced the latest graduates from their prestigious program and stated, “The CDFA team is happy to welcome Carrie into the ranks of Development Finance Certified Professional (DFCP) graduates. She is a great ambassador of the DFCP program and embodies the best and brightest in the development finance industry.”

“GCA is thrilled to have Carrie on our team.” said Elizabeth Fazio Hale, General Manager/CEO of GCA. “Carrie will be a tremendous asset in the further development of GCA finance and debt management l programs.”

GCA has the authority to own and operate regional industrial and municipal wastewater treatment plants, water systems, and solid waste facilities statewide. GCA supports both environmental protection and economic development in Texas by providing administrative, operational, and technical services, as well as financial services which support industrial development bonds and private activity bonds.

Morales Receives WEAT Presidential Award

Gulf Coast Authority (GCA) is proud to announce that Brianna Morales is the 2021 recipient of the Water Environment Association of Texas’ (WEAT) Presidential Award. The Presidential Award is given by WEAT to a person that has gone the extra mile in supporting the WEAT President in leading the organization. The Presidential Award will be awarded at the 2021 Texas Water Presidential Reception on Friday, March 26, 2021.
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Gulf Coast Authority (GCA) is honored to recognize its Washburn Tunnel Wastewater Treatment Facility (WT) as the recipient of the Water Environment Association of Texas’ (WEAT) Industrial Wastewater Treatment Plant of the Year Award

Gulf Coast Authority (GCA) is honored to recognize its Washburn Tunnel Wastewater Treatment Facility (WT) as the recipient of the Water Environment Association of Texas’ (WEAT) Industrial Wastewater Treatment Plant of the Year Award for operational excellence in 2020. The award is for consistent outstanding performance of daily activities beyond the normal call of duty. The award will be presented at the annual WEAT meeting on March 25, 2021.
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Levine Receives Prestigious WEAT Award

Gulf Coast Authority (GCA) is proud to announce that Leonard Levine is the 2021 recipient of the Water Environment Association of Texas’ (WEAT) Winfield S. Mahlie Award. The Winfield S. Mahlie Award is given by WEAT to a person who has “made significant contributions to the art and science of wastewater treatment and water pollution control.”
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GCA Announces Two Leadership Promotions at Bayport and Blackhawk Facilities

With a growing demand for industrial wastewater treatment, GCA’s Bayport Facility welcomes Brianna Morales as Assistant Facility Manager. Ms. Morales previously served as the Facility Manager of GCA’s Blackhawk municipal facility. Ms. Morales has eight years of experience in wastewater operations. Previously, she worked in GCA’s Central Laboratory. Ms. Morales is a graduate of the University of Houston-Clear Lake and holds a master’s degree in Industrial Management from the University of Texas at Tyler.

As a result of Ms. Morales’ advancement, Shannon Miftari was promoted to Facility Manager of the Blackhawk Municipal Facility. Mr. Miftari previously served as Operations Supervisor of the Blackhawk Municipal Facility for the past 3 years. Prior to his position at Blackhawk, he worked at GCA’s Bayport Facility as an Operator and Compliance Technician. Mr. Miftari holds a B.S. in Biology from the University of Houston-Clear Lake.