Water Prize Competition Center



About Water Prize Competition Center

    Prize Competitions spur innovation by engaging a non-traditional, national solver community while also complementing traditional research in their design to target the most persistent science and technology challenges. Competitions also involve using prizes to incentivize the submission of solutions and are made open to a national, non-Federal solver community including citizens, businesses, and other organizations.

    Under the America COMPETES Act Federal agencies have the option to use prize competitions as an additional tool to find solutions to the problems they need to solve.

    There are three theme areas: Water Availability, Environmental Compliance, and Infrastructure Sustainability.


    Follow Reclamation's Prize Competitions

      When a prize competition is launched, potential solvers may access information via Challenge.gov as well as the respective webpage (see Current and Upcoming links on the left).

      Learn how to register at Challenge.gov →


      Submit a Solution

        First, register with InnoCentive. Next, visit the prize competition posted at InnoCentive's Water Pavilion. Then, select the competition and submit a solution.

        Learn how to register and submit a solution at InnoCentive →


        Be a Partner

          Federal Partners: Federal collaboration enables agencies to leverage Federal capabilities, catalyze interagency working relationships, better define and solve joint problems, avoid duplication, and find solutions that have a broader impact across the mission of multiple Federal agencies, the stakeholders we collectively serve, and overall public good.

          Non-Federal Partners: State and local agencies, universities, the private sector, and non-profit organizations that have a stake in water and water-related resources bring invaluable complimentary perspectives that enable problems and solution requirements to be optimally defined to have broad impact across the water resources community of practice. Industry participation provides essential capability to mature and commercialize solutions into market ready products that serve the water resources community, create jobs, and drives the economy.


          Stories & Media
          • News - Launch

            Bureau of Reclamation launches prize challenge seeking new or improved techniques for reservoir sediment removal in a cost-effective manner

            (October 10, 2018) The Bureau of Reclamation is launching a new prize challenge seeking new or improved techniques to remove sediment from reservoirs in a cost-effective manner. Sedimentation in reservoirs can be a significant problem by limiting the active life of reservoirs by reducing available water storage capacity or flood control benefits. Sedimentation also impacts dam outlets, reservoir water intakes, water quality, recreation, upstream flood stage, and downstream habitat.

            This is a theoretical challenge where solvers can provide ideas on sediment collection, transport, or delivery to the downstream river. In a theoretical challenge the only thing required is a white paper. Solvers are asked to submit their idea with detailed descriptions, drawings, illustrations, specifications, supporting data or literature, and any other things that would be needed to bring the idea to practice.

            In this first stage, a total prize pool of $75,000 is available. The minimum full amount award is $15,000. Depending on the proposal, Reclamation may award more than that up to the total prize purse. If this first stage produces winning concepts and Reclamation determines a second stage is beneficial, it will launch a subsequent challenge where participants will be asked to present their proposal and provide a working prototype. In addition to an anticipated higher monetary award, Reclamation will invite industry, non-profit organizations, and venture capital representatives to the Stage 2 presentations and testing.

            Reclamation is partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Regulatory Commission, Natural Resource Conservation Service and American Rivers on various aspects of this prize competition. Read More →

          • News - Launch

            Bureau of Reclamation launches prize competition seeking ideas to continuously power instruments on power generator rotating shafts

            (September 7, 2018) The Bureau of Reclamation has launched a new prize competition seeking solutions to provide direct current power of up to 20 watts for electronic instruments on hydropower generating units’ rotating shafts. Power sources for electronics on rotating shafts presently available include batteries and contact solutions. However, existing technologies for these types of power sources are limited with respect to operation, installation, maintenance or other factors. Thus, new solutions are needed to power these instruments, which will be installed permanently on the rotating shaft to collect continuous data of generator operation and performance.

            Reclamation is making a total award pool of $250,000 available for this competition. After the competition deadline, Reclamation will select solutions for experimental validation in a laboratory or field-scale demonstration. The solvers selected for this validation will share up to $50,000, with no award smaller than $5,000. Final awards will be granted from the remaining award pool through critical analysis of the demonstration results by Reclamation and its panel of judges.

            Solutions for this prize competition can be novel approaches or can build upon existing methods and technologies. The solver should submit a white paper that describes a device for providing direct current power to instruments on rotating shafts as defined in the solution requirements. It should be accompanied by a well-articulated rationale supported by literature and/or patent precedents.

            Reclamation is partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bonneville Power Administration on this prize competition. Read More →

          • News - Award

            Bureau of Reclamation announces winners of the Long-Term Corrosion Protection of Existing Hydraulic Steel Structures Prize Competition

            (June 27, 2018) Brenda Burman, Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, announced that five individuals were awarded a total of $47,500 for their innovative solutions to protect large hydraulic steel structures from corrosion during Stage 1 of the Long-Term Corrosion Protection of Existing Hydraulic Steel Structures Prize Competition.

            “We were seeking protection ideas that extend beyond currently available coatings and cathodic protection,” Burman said. “We are excited to see how these proposed solutions might help ensure that our submerged steel structures are protected from corrosion.”

            The Long-Term Corrosion Protection of Existing Hydraulic Steel Structures Prize Competition was initiated as a mechanism to generate novel solutions to protect Reclamation’s hydroelectric penstock pipes and gates from corrosion for fifty years or longer, and with minimal maintenance and installation costs. Read More →

          • News - Launch

            Bureau of Reclamation launches prize competition seeking improved methods for monitoring pathogens to facilitate water reuse

            (May 11, 2018) The Bureau of Reclamation is launching a new prize competition that is seeking improved methods to sample and monitor for pathogens, specifically viruses, in order to help with indirect and direct reuse of wastewater. Solutions sought through this prize competition must improve on the current state of the technology for virus monitoring.

            This is stage one of a planned two-stage challenge. This competition is a theoretical challenge where participants will be asked to submit ideas, along with detailed descriptions, specifications, supporting data or literature, and requirements necessary to bring the idea closer to becoming a product. Up to five prizes may be awarded for a total prize award pool of $80,000. To be successful in this competition, the solution must accelerate the development of either direct or indirect virus monitoring methods for water reuse applications.

            If stage one demonstrates that a second stage is beneficial, stage two will launch as a subsequent competition. In the second stage of the competition, participants will be asked to present their technology and submit a working prototype that puts their idea into practice. Stage two anticipates having a larger prize purse. You will not have to participate stage one of the prize competition to participate in stage two.

            Reclamation is the seeker on this competition and Xylem, Inc. is a co-sponsor, contributing to all aspects, including the prize purse. The Environmental Protection Agency and The Water Reuse Foundation are collaborating on various aspects of this competition. Read More →

          • News - Award

            Bureau of Reclamation selects eight ideas for its More Water, Less Concentrate prize competition

            (April 4, 2018) Eight ideas were selected from the Stage 1 portion of the More Water, Less Concentrate prize competition. The competition sought innovative concepts to expand usable water supplies by maximizing fresh water production from inland desalination systems in a cost-effective and environmentally sound manner. The solvers will share $150,000.

            "The demand for fresh water will be increasing, and we need to be able to develop new water supplies from non-traditional water sources, like brackish groundwater and surface water using desalination and novel technologies," Commissioner Brenda Burman said. Currently, significant and desirable water supplies are trapped in concentrate streams that are a byproduct of desalination technologies. The cost to manage or dispose of concentrate is rather large and limiting to utilization of desalination in inland applications. This challenge sought innovative concepts to expand usable water supplies by maximizing fresh water production from inland desalination systems, and thereby reduce the volume of concentrate. Read More →

          • News - Launch

            Bureau of Reclamation launches prize competition looking for new ways to detect leaks and flaws in large buried pipelines

            (March 8, 2018) The Bureau of Reclamation has launched a new prize competition seeking innovative methods and technologies to detect leaks and flaws in large buried pipelines that deliver water for municipal, industrial, and agricultural uses. Currently, no practical method exists to detect leaks and flaws in large diameter pipelines.

            This competition is focused on steel pipe and prestressed concrete cylinder pipe with diameters greater than 48 inches. However, proposed solutions that can be applied to all size and type of pipelines in a wide variety of uses will be considered. Proposed solutions must be cost-effective and scalable to pipelines with lengths of approximately 100 miles. Winning solutions that meet these criteria could have potential benefits not only to Reclamation and its water users, but to state and local municipal water utilities and customers. Read More →

          • News - Award

            Bureau of Reclamation awards $50,000 for five arsenic sensor solutions selected through prize competition

            (March 2, 2018) Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman announced that five private sector and citizen solvers shared a prize competition purse of $50,000 for their submissions of concepts to improve arsenic measurement technologies in water.

            "Current analytical methods are suitable for ensuring regulatory compliance, but there remains a need for rapid, low-cost monitoring of arsenic," Commissioner Burman said. "These selected ideas are a positive step forward to better understand and manage water quality, potentially opening up more usable supplies for the West and the country. We look forward to seeing the application of these proposed solutions."

            Stage 1 of the arsenic sensor prize competition sought concepts for rapidly, accurately, and cost-effectively measuring arsenic in water through improved sensor technologies. Responses were judged, and winners each received a cash prize of $10,000. To advance these concepts, Reclamation will be hosting stage 2 of the competition, which seeks working prototypes of innovative arsenic sensing technologies. Read More →

          • News - Launch

            Bureau of Reclamation launches prize competition looking to eradicate invasive quagga and zebra mussels

            (December 14, 2017) The Bureau of Reclamation has launched a new prize competition seeking innovative solutions for the 100-percent eradication of invasive quagga and zebra mussels from large reservoirs, lakes and rivers in a cost-effective and environmentally sound manner. Invasive mussel infestations pose significant logistical and economic challenges for local communities, recreationists, and water managers by potentially disrupting water deliveries, increasing facility maintenance cost, and impacting the local ecology. "Currently, no known broad scale application for open water exists to safely eradicate mussels in an environmentally sound manner," Reclamation's Science Advisor David Raff said. Read More  →

Last Updated: 10/10/18