6th Awards Ceremony Held in Riyadh

The 6th Awards Ceremony for the Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water was held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia at the Prince Sultan Grand Hall, Faisaliyah Hotel on 15 December 2014.

The ceremony was officiated by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, HRH Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Attendees included prominent member of the Saudi government, leading Saudi academics, prominent members of the Saudi Arabian water sector, and a number of water researchers from around the world.

The Creativity Prize was shared by two teams. The team of Dr. Eric F. Wood and Dr. Justin Sheffield of Princeton University won for their groundbreaking work in drought prediction. Dr. Sheffield said in his acceptance speech that he was especially pleased that his work was being recognized as a “breakthrough in a water-related field… which is useful to society and contributes to development and social uplift, while being practical, environmentally friendly, and cost-effective.”

The other recipient of the Creativity prize was the GPS Reflections Group headed by Dr. Kristine Larson of the University of Colorado at Boulder. Dr. Larson said at the event that she is honoured for PSIPW: “recognizing our group’s work to develop cost-efficient instrumentation to measure soil moisture, snow depth, and vegetation water content.”

The Surface Water Prize went to Dr. Larry W. Mays of Arizona State University, for innovative work in surface water hydrology, including investigations into how ancient water technologies can be adapted to address the urgent needs of people in water-scarce regions of the world today. Dr. Mays explained that it is vital to study “ancient water technologies as one the methodologies for solving water resources sustainability problems, especially in developing parts of the world.  Poor water management hurts the poor the most and some solutions will certainly be found in traditional knowledge through techniques that have been around for millennia.”

He added: “The Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water provides visibility to the important problems associated with water sustainability issues around the world and will promote innovative solutions for our future of water sustainability.”

The Groundwater Prize was awarded to Dr. Jesús Carrera Ramirez of Spain’s Institute for Assessment and Water Research in Barcelona for his essential contributions to the development of mathematical hydrogeology and transport modeling in groundwater systems. He said: “Words do not suffice to express how honored I feel by this award. I have devoted my life to hydrology and recognition by the community is the dream of a scientist.” He then encouraged PSIPW to continue in its mission to “fight for water.”

Dr. Polycarpos Falaras of the National Center for Scientific Research “Demokritos” in Athens won the Alternative Water Resources Prize for developing a novel detoxification system that destroys toxins through solar photocatalysis during the water filtration process.  He said: “Behind such a prestigious prize there is a big idea and behind a big idea is always a great personality. This is the case of the founder of the prize, His Royal Highness Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz, a real environmental activist.”

He added that his award-winning work with the EU “CLEAN WATER” project “followed a holistic approach going from the level of the nanomaterials synthesis to device design and manufacture, passing through process engineering and optimization. We thus developed an innovative and efficient water detoxification nanotechnology for the destruction of extremely hazardous toxins and emerging pollutants in natural waters and water supplies.”

The Water Management & Protection Prize was won by UCLA’s Dr. William W-G. Yeh for developing optimization models to plan, manage and operate large-scale water resources systems throughout the world. He explained: “With the rapid advancement in computing power and the availability of user-friendly interfaces, such optimization models have been adopted for water management and protection in various regions of the world.  A small improvement in the operation of large-scale water resources systems translates into enormous water savings and other benefits over time.”