Groundwater research helps hydrogeologist wins Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize 2016

World-renowned hydrogeologist Professor John Anthony Cherry has been announced as the 7th Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize Laureate...

Content Dam Ww Online Articles 2016 03 Photo 01

SINGAPORE – World-renowned hydrogeologist Professor John Anthony Cherry has been announced as the 7th Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize Laureate for his lifelong contributions to the advancement of groundwater science and technology.

The prestigious Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize 2016 is awarded by the biennial Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) event.

Prof Cherry was lauded for his contributions and influence in groundwater management, and lifelong dedication to the protection of groundwater resources, which constitutes 95% of the usable freshwater on the planet.

A leading authority in hydrogeology, Prof Cherry’s revolutionary research in collaboration with international partners has provided the global groundwater community with a better scientific framework to formulate policies and best practices.

He has been seen to help advance global recognition of groundwater processes and the development of better field methods for groundwater contamination.

The revolutionary research findings and policy impact by Prof Cherry have contributed to more effective risk management in groundwater pollution control measures, as well as revisions and formulation of new groundwater remediation guidelines and approaches in several countries including the US, SIWW said in a statement. The effect of his contributions have also established new models for public-private partnerships for groundwater research.

Content Dam Ww Online Articles 2016 03 Photo 01

Left to Right: Bernard Tan, managing director, Singapore International Water Week, Ng Joo Hee, chief executive, PUB, Professor John Anthony Cherry, Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize 2016 laureate, and Harry Seah, chief engineering and technology officer, PUB

Professor Cherry has participated in the development of technologies for groundwater monitoring and remediation, and co-holds several patents on this. He has co-authored textbooks and monographs that have very wide impact, including the textbook “Groundwater” with R.A. Freeze (1979) and the book “Dense Chlorinated Solvents and Other DNAPLs in Groundwater” with James Pankow (1996).

Adding to his list of accomplished achievements, the monitoring technologies and clean-up processes developed by Prof Cherry have been implemented in areas that face groundwater contamination, including those in the US, China, and Brazil, among others.

The professor can also be credited with unearthing an insight that subsequently formed the theoretical basis for the set of benchmark criteria used in the disposal of hazardous industrial and nuclear waste, which has been incorporated into regulatory frameworks.

Prof Cherry is also an advocate for the need to monitor and research the effects of shale gas exploitation and fracking on groundwater resources. In recent years, he has focused his research on fractured rock, the least understood of all groundwater systems but one that is particularly susceptible to contamination.

His knowledge in fractured rock hydrology and rock drilling is said to have contributed towards the supply of safe drinking water to people living in mountainous bedrock regions with limited vehicle access.

Prof Cherry remains active in the scientific community and is currently leading an international team to acquire and test small, low-cost portable rock drills to make small-capacity wells that are designed to have a low risk of bacterial contamination.

Tan Gee Paw, chairman of the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize Nominating Committee, said: “Prof Cherry exemplifies the attributes needed to drive the development of innovative solutions that address the global water crises. To create real impact and influence policymaking and regulations require courageous, informed and decisive action. This is clearly reflected in Prof Cherry’s approach to field research and advocacy. The insights and contributions made by Prof Cherry form today’s framework in understanding one of the world’s most precious water resources, and ultimately lead to the provision of safe drinking water to populations that rely primarily on groundwater resources.”

Professor John Anthony Cherry added: “It is an incredible honour to receive the prestigious Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize, and to be accepting the recognition in conjunction with World Water Day speaks volumes of its significance. I am confident that global accolades such as the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize will heighten awareness of the global water challenges and encourage the development of innovative water solutions and technologies for more effective water management and protection of our water resources.”

As the 7th Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize Laureate, Professor John Anthony Cherry will deliver the Singapore Water Lecture on 11 July 2016. He will also receive the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize at the Lee Kuan Yew Prize Award Ceremony and Banquet on the same night.

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