Great Lakes Protection Fund announces leadership awards for water technology innovation

Recognizes forward-thinking efforts to restore health of the Great Lakes.

800px Great Lakes From Space
Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

EVANSTON, IL, MAY 23, 2019 -- The Great Lakes Protection Fund has named six organizations from the United States and Canada as recipients of the 2019 Great Lakes Leadership Award for Water Technology Innovation. The award highlights efforts to advance water technology innovation -- addressing current threats and anticipating future challenges to the ecological health of water in this region and beyond.

The winners of the 2019 Great Lakes Leadership Award for Water Technology Innovation are: AquaHacking, the Cleveland Water Alliance, Current, The Everglades Foundation, Imagine H2O, and The Water Council. Each of these organizations has built rich networks of entrepreneurs, financiers, public entities, and private industries to spur innovation for the benefit of the basin's people and environment. The Fund -- an innovation endowment established by the Great Lakes governors -- created the Leadership Awards to celebrate efforts that accelerate new actions for protecting and improving the Great Lakes and have the potential to improve water quality on a global scale.

"These entrepreneurial leaders are advancing new technologies that address critical challenges facing the Great Lakes," explained David Rankin, executive director of the Fund. Rankin praised the winners for their ability to bring an influx of creative ideas, citizen involvement, private capital, and collaboration to benefit the Great Lakes. "With these awards, the Great Lakes Protection Fund is recognizing innovative efforts to drive massive improvement in the health of the Great Lakes and help secure clean water for the future."

Representing 84 percent of North America's surface fresh water, the Great Lakes offer drinking water to 40 million people and support a $5.8 trillion regional economy. A vital resource for the entire region, the Lakes provide more than one trillion gallons of water each day for drinking, generating electricity, irrigating fields, and supporting industrial operations.

"We've come a long way in the 50 years since the infamous Cuyahoga River fire, but challenges remain. Excess nutrients, toxic pollution, and invasive species can still make our waters unsafe for drinking, swimming, or fishing," said Rankin. "Increasing rainfall, inadequate infrastructure, and growing pressure on our water resources require new solutions. The six organizations we are recognizing today offer great hope for the future of the Great Lakes."

Over the past three decades, the Fund has invested $84 million to improve the health of the Great Lakes and provided another $50 million directly to the Great Lakes states to further their individual protection efforts. The Fund's investments include the world's first ballast water treatment system on a working vessel, creating the foundation for a ballast technology industry worth $17.4 billion as of 2017, and dramatically decreasing the introduction of invasive species in the Great Lakes and elsewhere.

The 2019 Great Lakes Leadership Awards for Water Technology Innovation go to:

AquaHacking Challenge, Montreal, Quebec; The Cleveland Water Alliance, Cleveland, Ohio; Current, Chicago, Ill.; The Everglades Foundation, Palmetto Bay, Fla.; Imagine H2O, San Francisco, Calif.; and The Water Council, Milwaukee, Wis. To learn more, visit

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