After more than two years of testing in laboratories and in the Lake Simcoe Watershed, four finalists in the George Barley Water Prize have been announced.
The George Barley Water Prize is a $10-million incentive award to find a new technology capable of removing phosphorus from water supplies.
“These finalists represent our best hope for solving the algae crisis that is choking waterways worldwide,” said Eric Eikenberg, CEO of The Everglades Foundation, which is hosting the competition.
For a 90-day stretch (February – May 2018), nine teams of scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs – narrowed down from an original field of 104 international competitors – tested their technologies under cold weather conditions in Bradford, on the Holland Marsh.
The four remaining teams, which won $125,000 each, will now advance to the final phase of the competition, called the “Grand Challenge,” at Lake Jesup, near Orlando, FL.
“At Lake Jesup, the finalists — University of Idaho – Clean Water Machine, Wetsus NAFRAD, Greenwater Solution Inc., and The U.S. Geological Survey – Leetown Science Center – will engage in 14 months of intensive field testing under moderate and warm weather conditions,” Eikenberg said. “These final four teams will need to prove their technologies’ ability to work in both freezing and warm temperatures. This will be their opportunity to showcase the global applicability of their solutions.”
Modelled after the incentive prizes that encouraged Charles Lindbergh to make the first nonstop trans-Atlantic flight and that led to the invention of fire extinguishers and commercial hydraulic turbines, The George Barley Water Prize will award $10-million to the team that can develop a safe, effective and affordable method to remove phosphorus from waterways on a large scale. The Prize is named after the late George Barley, one of the two founders of The Everglades Foundation, Eikenberg noted.
Phosphorus is essential for plant growth and human health (it is second only to calcium as the most common mineral found in the human body) and is widely used in chemical fertilizers. In waterways, however, it nurtures the growth of algae that is killing fish and spoiling water quality worldwide.
According to the World Resources Institute, more than 15,000 freshwater bodies in the United States alone are affected by phosphorus pollution.
Runoff from man’s long-standing use of phosphorus-based fertilizers is so extensive, scientists believe, that even if its use were to be eliminated altogether, there is so much of the mineral already stored in water and soil that it would continue to be a serious pollutant, creating algae blooms for decades, if not centuries, to come.
The George Barley Water Prize is hosted by The Everglades Foundation in association with the Scott’s Miracle-Gro Foundation as presenting sponsor, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Chicago Community Trust, the Knight Foundation, The Field Museum, and Xylem, Inc.
For more information about The Everglades Foundation, visit EvergladesFoundation.org.
In the photo, Bradford Mayor-elect Rob Keffer, far right, was on hand to present the $125,000 cheques to the four winners, who will go on to compete for $10-million.
Article and photo courtesy of the Everglades Foundation.