Bureau of Reclamation Partners with USAID to Highlight Innovation in Desalination Science

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Desal Prize will identify innovations in brackish groundwater desalination to provide potable water for humans and suitable water for livestock and crops.

Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility with sign of building in the front. Desert landscape in front of the building.

Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility

This partnership continues that commitment and will help identify potential solutions to treat brackish water in rural, tribal or remote settings.

The Bureau of Reclamation is partnering with the U.S. Agency for International Development to launch the Desal Prize – a worldwide effort to identify and promote innovation in brackish groundwater desalination.

Reclamation – a leader in advancing desalination technology in the western United States – is providing technical guidance to the project and will host Desal Prize semi-finalists at its Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility in Alamogordo, N.M., in the spring of 2015 where entrants will compete in the first demonstration competitions for the prize. Finalists from this stage will go on to compete in a rigorous field demonstration at one of the USAID mission locations.

"For more than 100 years, Reclamation and its partners have confronted a widening imbalance between supply and demand in basins throughout the West," said acting Commissioner Lowell Pimley. "This partnership continues that commitment and will help identify potential solutions to treat brackish water in rural, tribal or remote settings. This partnership underscores Reclamation’s leadership and support of all kinds of desalination projects throughout the West."

The USAID Desal Prize will be awarded to cost effective, energy efficient and environmentally sustainable working prototypes that can be used for multi-use desalination in developing countries. Ten to 12 semifinalists will receive $5,000 as seed money to test or further develop their device. From this group, select finalists will receive an additional $5,000 to continue their project in the field before a judging panel selects the awardee(s) of the $500,000 grand prize.

"Water scarcity is one of today’s most pressing development challenges, and the impact of water scarcity on all aspects of development is undeniable," said USAID Global Water Coordinator Christian Holmes at an event at the U.S. Department of State marking World Water Day. "We must augment traditional water supplies to satisfy future demand – we urgently need solutions to fulfill the growing need for potable water."

The Desal Prize is part of the $32 million Securing Water for Food: Grand Challenge for Development launched at the 2013 World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden. The initiative is a partnership between USAID, the Swedish International Development Agency and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and aims to source, incubate and accelerate innovative solutions to reduce water scarcity around the world. Projections are that by 2025, two-thirds of the world's population could be living in severe water stress conditions.

To learn more about the Desal Prize or to submit suggestions, please visit http://www.thedesalprize.org or follow on Twitter @SecuringWater #DesalPrize.

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Peter Soeth
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Bureau of Reclamation
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