DUBUQUE, IOWA — The Valparaiso, Ind., city utilities water and water reclamation department has just been named the winner of the first annual Big Green Idea Contest, sponsored by leading municipal technology provider Cartegraph.

The Big Green Idea Contest was launched to promote the wide array of sustainable efforts taking place in government entities all across the nation. Entrants were asked to demonstrate how they use technology and foresight to support smarter, more sustainable communities. All contest submissions were judged on creativity, feasibility, and practicality.

Valparaiso’s entry shared the success of several efforts aimed at continuous environmental improvement as outlined in the city’s Quality of Life Plan. The water department described how historic hydrant information was converted from paper to electronic format, helping preserve and sustain vital data, develop proactive inspection and maintenance schedules, and extend the service life of hydrants. The water reclamation department outlined how they use technology to eliminate paper, reduce fuel consumption, and save time while generating and fulfilling departmental work orders.

The Valparaiso city utilities water and water reclamation department was competing against four other finalists. Other significant entries included Corning, N.Y.’s idea for an incentive-based, community-wide waste reduction program, and Malden, Mass.’s innovative proposal to explore the possibility of converting discarded rugs into an insulation product.

“We received a lot of great ideas,” said Cartegraph events/communications coordinator Natalie Sacco. “Overall, Cartegraph felt that Valparaiso’s submission demonstrated a long-term and practical commitment to sustainability in government. And that’s what this contest was really about.”

As the winner of the Big Green Idea Contest, the Valparaiso city utilities water and water reclamation department will receive one complimentary pass to Cartegraph CONNECT 2010, Oct. 4-7, in Dubuque, Iowa. The department will also be featured in an upcoming Cartegraph case study focusing on the benefits of sustainable practices in government.