POST FALLS - Post Falls Mayor Clay Larkin's environmental stewardship is being recognized at the national level and blazing a trail for the West.
Larkin will receive the Water Environment Foundation's Excellence Award for Public Officials at the national nonprofit's conference in New Orleans on Oct. 3-6.
"I'm very honored and humbled to be the first public official west of the Mississippi to earn the award for an organization that's been around since 1928," Larkin said. "I've worked with a lot of other people on environmental issues over the years who deserve the award, but my name will be on it. My name will represent the city of Post Falls and the state of Idaho."
Larkin said the award ranks as his highest environmental honor because city staff members Terry Werner and Mike Neher nominated him and he joins big names among the past winners. Previous winners included mayors for the cities of Boston, Atlanta and Stamford, Conn., along with members of Congress.
"Mayor Larkin digs into the issues, and if he perceives a threat to the aquifer or river, he calls on the responsible parties to justify their actions," Werner wrote in the nomination. "Mayor Larkin has a deep appreciation for the intricate connection between water supply and human endeavor and the wide-ranging impacts humans can have on the regional environment and economy."
Terry Harris, executive director of the Kootenai Environmental Alliance, said he believes Larkin is deserving of the honor.
"He's one of the most active and engaged public officials in the state of Idaho on water conservation and aquifer protection," Harris said. "He understands how critically important the resource is to the region and how important it is to his constituents of Post Falls. It's something he takes to heart."
Larkin said he dedicates a lot of time to environmental issues such as the Spokane River cleanup, lake management plan, medication turn-ins, water conservation, Burlington Northern Railway fuel depot, toxic waste in the Silver Valley and invasive threats to Idaho's lakes and streams because it's the right thing to do now and for future generations.
"When I leave office, I hope to leave the environment better than when I started," he said. "I'm trying to protect what our forefathers did before I came along. It's important to have good water, clean air and a safe environment to live. If the science backs it up, we've got to stay the course."
The WEF is a nonprofit technical and educational organization with 36,000 individual members and 75 affiliated member associations representing water quality professionals around the world.
Larkin, Post Falls' mayor since 2001, is the current chairman of the Association of Idaho Cities' environmental committee. He oversaw the development of the city's urban forestry program and received the Art Manley Award from the Kootenai Environmental Alliance for protecting the aquifer.
The WEF conference is billed as the largest water quality conference and exhibition in the world, featuring 112 technical sessions, 35 workshops and facility tours. It is expected to draw about 20,000 attendees.