Federal partnership launches water quality challenge

The Nutrient Sensor Action Challenge is a collaboration between federal agencies to work at the local level.

Aug 1st, 2017
Toxic algal bloom in Lak Erie. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
Toxic algal bloom in Lak Erie. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

WASHINGTON DC, AUG 1, 2017 -- A federal partnership launched a technology-accelerating water quality challenge to demonstrate how nutrient sensors can be used by states and local communities to help manage nutrient pollution.

Nutrient pollution is one of America's most widespread, costliest, and most challenging environmental problems. It is caused by excess nitrogen and phosphorus in the air and water. Too much nitrogen and phosphorus in water causes algae to grow faster than ecosystems can handle. This results in major environmental damage and serious health problems in people and animals. Nutrient pollution and algal blooms also take a toll on the economy, hurting industries and sectors that depend on clean water. Federal, state and local governments spend billions of dollars every year to combat nutrient pollution or prevent its effects.

The Nutrient Sensor Action Challenge builds upon the 2014 Nutrient Sensor Challenge, which helped facilitate the development of affordable, high-performing, continuous nutrient sensors and analyzers. The Nutrient Sensor Action Challenge calls for demonstrations showing the effective use of low-cost sensors, innovative partnerships to pilot the sensors and data management, and demonstrations of how collected data and information can be part of state and local decision-making. By proving there are successful strategies for incorporating nutrient sensors into existing water monitoring efforts, the Challenge can help states and communities overcome the major barriers to taking action to prevent and reduce nutrient pollution.

In Stage 1 of the Nutrient Sensor Action Challenge, which closes September 20, 2017, teams will submit action plans. These plans will explain how teams intend to deploy and use sensors and how they will meet Challenge goals. Judges will review the submissions and select up to 10 winning applications. Top entries will receive cash prizes totaling $50,000 and invitations to participate in Stage 2 of the Challenge. In Stage 2, teams will deploy the sensors and collect data as they compete for a share in $100,000 in prizes.

The Nutrient Sensor Action Challenge is a collaboration between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)-led U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (U.S. IOOS®). Joining the federal collaboration is the Alliance for Coastal Technologies (ACT) which is a partnership organization of research institutions, resource managers, and private sector companies dedicated to fostering the development and adoption of effective and reliable sensors and platforms. For more information on the Nutrient Sensor Action Challenge: http://www.challenge.gov/nutrient-sensor-action-challenge/

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