Counting Every Drop Challenge

Launched: August 4, 2022, 2 pm Mountain Time (MT)

Submission: October 24, 2022, 3 pm Mountain Time (MT)

Awards: $300,000 IN TOTAL PRIZES



The Bureau of Reclamation in partnership with the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) seeks new and improved ground-based precipitation measurement devices that are reliable, accurate, low maintenance, and able to operate in remote locations under extreme environmental conditions.

Accurate and reliable measurement of precipitation are critical for water resources management. Precipitation measurements contribute to water managers’ ability to forecast and react to changing hydrologic conditions and better plan for events that may affect long term water supplies, including floods and droughts. The majority of streamflow in the western US comes from precipitation over mountainous watersheds thus precipitation measurement sites are often located in remote areas. Current measurement devices generally work well; however, they present operation and maintenance (O&M) challenges, have limitations with respect to measurement accuracy and stability, and can create an environmental risk due to fluids required to melt solid precipitation. The Counting Every Drop Challenge focuses on addressing O&M challenges, eliminating or significantly reducing reliance on fluids (antifreeze or oils), and improving the reliability and accuracy of ground-based precipitation measurement devices.

This Counting Every Drop Challenge is envisioned to consist of two phases:

  • Phase 1: White Paper Competition where competitors will submit white paper describing their proposed precipitation measurement device and how they will address all the requirements of the challenge. Submissions will be evaluated on their novel approach to the challenge requirements including eliminating or decreasing use of fluids, improving accuracy and reliability, and decreasing O&M loads, and on their ability to complete a prototype that will be ready to be installed in the field in Phase 2. The total Phase 1 prize purse is $80,000.

  • Phase 2: Competitors will complete prototypes to be tested and deployed in the field alongside a benchmark device for comparison. Prototypes will be in the field for at least 8 months. The total Phase 2 prize purse is $220,000.

Reclamation is partnering with the USDA - Natural Resources Conservation Service, NASA Tournament Lab, Geonor, Inc., and

Please visit Counting Every Drop Challenge to learn more and ask your competition specific questions.

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Reclamation launches new prize competition looking for improved precipitation measurement devices


Ian Ferguson |

Last Updated: 12/20/22