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ACF names the five finalists in the Water Innovation Challenge

The Arizona Community Foundation, Republic Media and Morrison Institute for Public Policy are pleased to announce the five finalists in the Water Innovation Challenge, the second philanthropic prize competition offered under The New Arizona Prize.

Look for interesting facts about each team in an article by The Arizona Republic.

Twenty-three teams met the August 12 deadline for submitting projects for consideration by the 18-member team of judges and five teams scored highly enough to qualify for the finals. These teams will pitch their solutions to the five members of the Selection Committee during the Prize Ceremony on November 3 and compete for the $250,000 prize:

Arizona State University Foundation for a New American University

Team members collectively provide the required technical, financial, regulatory, environmental, research, education, design, development and market expertise, resources and authority to implement this solution and create an excitement to propagate it throughout Arizona and the Southwest.

Video storytelling

View the team video.

Description of the team solution

It is the "Perfect Storm" in which to introduce game-changing, onsite water reclamation to meet Arizona’s water needs. Marrying ASU’s aggressive sustainability goals with City of Tempe’s pro-active wastewater collection and treatment system planning, overlain with the drought-stricken Colorado River, has created the perfect launch-pad for an innovative 1.5+ million gallons per day water reclamation facility. Termed "WaterWorks@ASU", this project will reduce ASU’s potable water demand by 36% and offer unparalleled community engagement to transform water culture and promote replication.

But this "flood" continues. ASU’s 127 water-focused faculty and institutes, coupled with the largest student body in the country, will research and learn technologies to further expand our water supply.

The community partnership and precious resource development doesn’t stop at the campus boundaries. Team member Catellus will develop the new ASU Athletics Facilities District (AFD), with purple pipes as the foundation: toilets, landscapes, and cooling towers all using reclaimed water!

City of Phoenix

The Arizona Water Exchange Platform team is composed of a diverse group of water professionals, technical experts, and community leaders with the experience to design and implement a trading platform that conforms with the realities of Arizona water law, policy, and infrastructure.

Video storytelling

View the team video.

Description of the team solution

Arizona’s leadership in water management innovation has helped to ground the state in diversified supplies, a revolutionary storage system, and extensive water delivery infrastructure. Growing water scarcity and expanding uncertainties in the Colorado River Basin now challenge this legacy.

Recognizing that flexibility, resilience, and resource sharing are powerful antidotes to uncertainty and scarcity, the City of Phoenix is seeding a team of experts to create the Arizona Water Exchange Platform. This data-driven and market-based technological tool will illustrate the range of local water supplies, demands, infrastructure, and sharing solutions within the current context of Arizona water law, drought dynamics, and Colorado River conditions. The New Arizona Prize offers an opportunity to invite managers and stakeholders to participate in the development of this dynamic tool and envision collaborative opportunities to move, share, exchange, and deploy the state’s rich water assets to meet a broad portfolio of needs under scarcity.

Friends of Verde River Greenway

A community organization recognized for effective collaboration in the Verde Valley will lead the project team which includes municipal leaders, conservation organizations, community leaders and area irrigators.

Video storytelling

View the team video.

Description of the team solution

Groundwater use in rural Arizona is largely unregulated, and few management tools are available. Groundwater is the only potable water supply for the Verde Valley, and it provides the base flow of the Verde River—itself critical to fish and wildlife, local residents, and the Phoenix-area communities that rely on the river for municipal and irrigation water. Unmanaged groundwater use can dewater streams and jeopardize water and economic security. Our proposed solution is the Verde River Exchange, a voluntary community-driven program that allows groundwater users to “offset” the impact of their water use by purchasing credits. Credits are created when an existing user reduces historic water use. Our diverse team will build on two successful pilot projects to create an innovative program that offers a scalable solution for reducing the impacts of groundwater pumping on Arizona’s rivers and for stabilizing water supplies for future Arizonans.

Freshwater Systems

This team includes public and private partners, community leaders, scholars and experts in water conservation.

Video storytelling

View the team video.

Description of the team solution

Think of a sponge as a farm field area and how it needs to be saturated to grow crops. What if tomorrow you could water just the crop root and not the whole sponge or farm field around it? How much water would you save? How many new food crops could you grow? Drought conditions in the Southwest and the uncertainty over the next 50 years in the amount of available water and changes in food demand anticipated throughout the Colorado River watershed necessitate new solutions.

Freshwater Systems (FWS), through its patent-pending Crop Guardian (CG) systems:

  • Addresses drought-stricken farming areas by using up to 80% less water per crop root.
  • Uses solar power vs. costly desalination systems to convert brackish water to freshwater.
  • Increases farm production by: 1) adding farm growing seasons beyond current conventional cropping periods and; 2) adding to existing or creating new farming regions in Arizona.

Pima County Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department

This team consists of water professionals representing local government, water utilities, academia and private partners.

Video storytelling

View the team video.

Description of the team solution

With increasing demands placed on existing water supplies, potable reuse requires exploration. Our solution culminates the efforts of the Steering Committee on Arizona Potable Reuse (SCAPR) and ADEQ’s current regulatory review by establishing a mobile, performance based reference facility that is desperately needed for addressing public perception and demonstrating the protection of public health. If potable reuse is done incorrectly, even just once, it could set back regulation and public confidence for years to come. Our solution will ensure that it is done right, every time.

Our bold entry will tackle these key issues by launching public discussions about water in every town, city, county, and tribal region throughout Arizona. Our refreshingly unique, educational approach will engage discussion and public acceptance by incorporating local bottlers and brewers through a Pure Water Brew Challenge competition to coincide with the national WaterReuse conference to be held in Phoenix. Please, come join us!

The Water Innovation Challenge

The New Arizona Prize aims to create the Arizona of tomorrow, a place where innovation thrives, where ingenuity is supported, and where the best thinking is harnessed to create long-term solutions to persistent needs. The first challenge offered under The New Arizona Prize banner was the Water Consciousness Challenge. Heightened attention around water, made possible by groups like Beyond the Mirage, the team that won the first challenge, is laying important groundwork for what needs to happen next. We need all Arizonans to become engaged in safeguarding this precious resource.

To this end, the next challenge offered under The New Arizona Prize, the Water Innovation Challenge was announced in March 2016, inviting collaborative teams in Arizona communities to develop innovative and scalable market-based solutions to advance the sustainability of its water future, whether it be a town or city, county, tribal area, or an entire region. The winning team will receive $250,000 to implement their solution. Thanks to a partnership with the WaterNow Alliance, the winner of the Water Innovation Challenge will benefit from as much as $50,000 in additional technical assistance to accelerate development and implementation of their winning solution.

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