General Manager, DC Water
One of the worst reputations in Washington used to belong to the District’s tap water. In 2004, the Environmental Protection Agency found high levels of lead in parts of the system. But DC Water has entered a new era, thanks largely to its general manager, George Hawkins.
In three years, the Princeton and Harvard Law grad has transformed the agency into what he calls “one of the most productive and innovative organizations” he’s been a part of.
Hawkins’s mandate is simple: Take Potomac River water, treat and distribute it for use, and clean and recycle it when it returns to the city’s wastewater-treatment plant. The results, too, are plain: During a recent blind tasting, 60 percent of people preferred tap over bottled water or liked it as much. Hawkins even fought successfully to get DC tap served at this month’s presidential inauguration.