Egan reported the series as part of the O'Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism at Marquette University during the 2013-14 academic year, and continued work on it throughout 2014. The judges added that his stories "read as clearly as a novel," and that the series also "does just what an investigative piece of journalism should do – present a situation that has many layers and peel them back for deeper understanding."
In addition to Egan, those recognized for their work on the project were multimedia journalists Erin Caughey and Bill Schulz, graphic artist Lou Saldivar and photojournalist Mark Hoffman. Caughey began working on the series as a O'Brien Fellowship intern during her senior year at Marquette University.
The 16 du Pont winners will be recognized Jan. 19 at Columbia. Other winners include ABC News, CBS News, PBS' Frontline and the podcast "Serial: Season One," which was produced in conjunction with NPR's "This American Life."
In 2009, the awards started accepting submissions of digital work, which allowed Web-only publications and outlets that publish newspapers to compete. In recent years, past winners include USA Today, The New York Times, The Seattle Times and Las Vegas Sun.
Egan's work on the "Watershed Moment" series was a finalist last year for the John B. Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism. He also received the J. Anthony Lukas Award for the best "work in progress" book. He is turning his reporting on the Great Lakes into a book, titled "Liquid Desert: Life and Death of the Great Lakes."