Carole D. Baker
To honor Gregg A. Cooke’s dedicated service to the people of Texas and the environment they share, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality established a Gregg A. Cooke Memorial Award for Exceptional Environmental Excellence. Each year, the award honors a single individual’s outstanding efforts to preserve and protect the environment in Texas. This award was established in May 2007 in honor of the late former EPA Region 6 Administrator Gregg Cooke and his commitment to giving Texans a better place to live. Gregg Cooke built a national reputation both at the EPA and in the private sector for leadership, vision, and a passion to improve air and water quality in Texas.
Known at the Texas Capitol and around the state as the “Queen of Water Conservation,” Carole D. Baker is this year’s recipient of the Gregg A. Cooke Memorial Award for Exceptional Environmental Excellence. For more than 15 years, Carole has been persuading Texas leaders to make water conservation issues a priority when addressing the state’s public policy issues. She is director of intergovernmental relations for the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District where she has provided exceptional leadership on both the state and national level. Carole also serves as the chair of the National Alliance for Water Efficiency, director on the board of the Texas Water Conservation Association, director on the board of the Texas Water Foundation, and founding member and director of the Texas Water Wise Council.
Carole has long believed that educating the public about water conservation is the key to ensuring reliable water supply for the future. Recently, she told an audience, “One of the most cost-effective tools we have in meeting the growing demand for water is conservation, which will account for nearly 23 percent of the projected additional water supply needed in 2060—a total of 2 million acre-feet per year—which is enough to supply half of the current annual municipal use in Texas. The key to success is education.”
Carole recognizes that getting others to climb aboard the water conservation bandwagon will mean changing an entire generation’s attitude about water. She has done her part by setting an example for her son, two daughters, and eight grandchildren. “As a state, and as a country, we have a lot of work to do when it comes to water conservation,” said Baker. “The driving force behind my service on this important national board (the National Alliance for Water Efficiency) is making sure there is enough water for my children and grandchildren’s generation.”
That passion became even more fervent when Carole traveled to Africa to visit her daughter and her young family, missionaries in Maun, Botswana. Carole saw arid land stripped of vegetation and witnessed the pervasive unreliability of piped water supplies. Africa’s scarcity of water reinforced its value in our own backyards and strengthened Carole’s resolve to push for greater conservation measures.
Carole’s work has led to millions of dollars dedicated to water conservation projects across the state. She will leave a legacy of stewardship and enduring respect for one of Texas’ most precious resources— water.