Finalists named in George Barley Water Prize contest; solutions sought to reduce phosphorus in water

MIAMI — After more than two years of testing their technologies in laboratories and in the field, the four finalists in The George Barley Water Prize — a $10 million incentive award to find a new technology capable of removing phosphorus from polluted fresh body waters — were announced yesterday at a formal ceremony in Toronto. The four finalists each received $125,000 to support their continuing research and development.

Phosphorus is widely used in chemical fertilizers, and while essential for plant growth and human health, excess amounts in waterways 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.

The George Barley Water Prize finalists who will advance to phase 4 are: • Clean Water Machine from the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho; • Wetsus NAFRAD from Leeuwarden, the Netherlands; • Green Water Solution, Inc. from Wellington, Fla.; and • U.S. Geological survey Leetown Science Center from Kearneysville, W.V.

“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 with presenting sponsor The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation.

The George Barley Water Prize was launched in 2016, following a state of emergency in Florida that lasted for 242 days as a result of toxic algae blooms that devastated the state’s waterways. The competition attracted 104 international competitors, which were then narrowed down to nine competitors who tested their technologies under cold weather conditions in Toronto for a 90-day stretch in early 2018. The four remaining teams will now advance to the final phase of the competition, the “Grand Challenge,” where they will test their technologies in warm water conditions at Lake Jesup, near Orlando. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is contributing $1 million towards the final phase.