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Agencies Offer $100K Prize for Innovative Water Campaign

39 percent of Arizona’s water comes from the Colorado River. Photo credit: The Arizona Republic

39 percent of Arizona’s water comes from the Colorado River. Photo credit: The Arizona Republic

By Mariana Dale for The Arizona Republic

Original headline: Innovators challenged over Arizona water scarcity

Water scarcity is one of Arizona’s most serious, ever-present problems.

Which is why students, researchers, professionals and creative thinkers are being challenged to raise awareness for an issue that the experts believe needs to be addressed now.

A $100K prize awaits the group that comes up with the most innovative campaign to push water scarcity into the forefront of public conversation.

The Water Consciousness Challenge is the first phase of the New Arizona Prize offered by the Arizona Community Foundation in collaboration with The Arizona Republic and the Morrison Institute for Public Policy. Underwriting for the program comes from the Tashman Fund and the Lodestar Foundation.

The next phase of the competition will challenge entrepreneurs to create business-based solutions and products to reduce water use.

The competition wants to create a public-service campaign that raises awareness about the challenges facing Arizona’s long-term water supply so residents will feel an urgency to start working on them now.

If Arizonans don’t change how they consume water and start brainstorming new solutions for dwindling supplies, shortages won’t be a choice, they will be an unavoidable reality.

Possible solutions to meeting Arizona’s future water needs include:

  • Desalination of sea water, which requires large financial investment and collaboration between government agencies and possibly Mexico.
  • Rebates for water-efficient systems. Tucson offers up to $1,000 for households that install gray-water recycling systems to reuse water from sinks, showers and washing machines for irrigation.
  • Increasing the use of recycled or reclaimed water. Arizona already uses this water to irrigate landscaping and recharge aquifers, but not as drinking water.
  • Cloud seeding. The Central Arizona Project has spent nearly $800K to blast silver iodide into clouds to try to increase snowfall in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, where the snowpack feeds the Colorado River.

Studies suggest part of the problem is that environmental issues don’t inspire emotional reactions like fear and worry, which tend to spur people to change their actions. Marketing executive Park Howell has found this to be true as a general rule.

Prospective participants must register by Dec. 19.

Read more at The Arizona Republic