May 4, 2006, Faneuil Hall, Boston
NEIWPCC executive director Ron Poltak (recipient of EPA Lifetime Achievement Award) with Robert Varney, EPA New England regional administrator.
At a ceremony in Boston’s ornate Faneuil Hall on May 4, NEIWPCC executive director Ronald Poltak received a coveted EPA Lifetime Achievement Merit Award. Given out by EPA since 1970, the merit awards honor individuals and groups who have shown particular ingenuity and commitment in their efforts to preserve the region's environment. This year's competition drew approximately 50 nominations from across New England.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Stephen L. Johnson and EPA New England regional administrator Robert W. Varney presented the awards to the recipients. “These awards are among the highest honors EPA can bestow to recognize environmental accomplishments,” said Varney. “The work of these individuals, organizations and businesses reflect the best attributes of New Englanders, working to find solutions to environmental issues. I offer my gratitude for their extraordinary contributions in protecting the environment.”
During the ceremony, Linda Murphy, director of EPA New England’s Office of Ecosystem Protection, delivered a speech honoring Ron and his achievements. “What distinguishes Ron Poltak is not only what he has accomplished,” Murphy said, “but how he has conducted his work—through respectful relationships, inclusive communications, and a commitment to quality results. The seven Northeast states that comprise NEIWPCC are small in area and population—but diverse in their economic and natural resource base, as well as their cultural and political identities. Ron, while recognizing these differences, has formed state coalitions for increased federal funds for water protection and restoration, and for building and repairing wastewater and drinking water infrastructure. He has helped bring about a paradigm shift in resource protection—focusing on watershed approaches, and shifting emphasis from controls on point source dischargers to controlling area-wide sources of pollution. He has acted to control mercury, acid deposition, and leaking underground oil tanks. In all these endeavors, Ron has forged partnerships between different states, different levels of government, and the business and environmental communities.”
Ron has served as NEIWPCC’s executive director since 1983. Under his leadership, the Commission has dramatically increased its activities related to water quality, wastewater treatment, drinking water, and training, and has expanded its focus to include issues such as nonpoint source pollution, underground storage tanks, and new threats like mercury. Before joining NEIWPCC, Ron served as the director of the New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation. He also spent 15 years with the New Hampshire Governor’s Office in various influential and senior environmental positions. Ron is a former president of the Association of State and Interstate Water Pollution Control Administrators and a former chair of the New England Water Environment Association’s Government Affairs Committee. In total, he has spent more than 30 years in environmental policy development and implementation