Bureau of Reclamation

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Guardians of the Reservoir Challenge

Help sustain America’s reservoirs. We’re looking for ways to remove sedimentation that regularly accumulates in reservoirs.
stage:
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prize:
$550,000
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Overview

Challenge Overview

Important update on intellectual property here.

 

Reservoirs are bodies of stored fresh water that typically form behind dams.  They are a critical water source, supplying farms with irrigation and providing potable water to people and homes.  Increasingly, they are also an important component of outdoor, water-based recreation.

As rivers flow, they naturally carry along sediment (clay, silt, sand, and gravel). When rivers are dammed, sediments are deposited in the reservoirs that form behind dams. Sand and gravel deposit at the upstream end of reservoirs and form deltas that also extend upstream beyond the full reservoir pool. Clay and silt deposit farther downstream along the reservoir bottom and all the way to the dam. Over time, these sediment deposits build-up to the point where they significantly reduce a reservoir’s storage capacity and may prevent the proper function of dam outlets and reservoir water intakes.  Without intervention, reservoirs eventually become filled with deposits, which means water is no longer being stored for future use.

The Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) is the nation’s largest wholesale water supplier.  They operate over 330 reservoirs that store 140 million acre-feet of water.  For reference, an acre-foot is 325, 851 gallons - which is enough to supply a family of four for one year.  

 

 

Reclamation, in collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), is sponsoring this three-phase Guardians of the Reservoir Challenge.  The goal of this challenge is to develop and demonstrate new processes and technologies that will collect and transport sediment from reservoirs at a rate that sustains their current capacity.  Reclamation’s primary interest is in technology that will move sediment downstream at the average annual rate at which it would otherwise accumulate, but approaches that can help in regaining lost reservoir capacity are of interest if they can do so in addition to meeting environmental and other performance criteria.

The authors of the most compelling submissions to this Guardians of the Reservoir Challenge will have the opportunity to develop and demonstrate their technologies at increasing scales for the Challenge sponsors.  In addition to prize money, winners may receive review comments and/or observations from their technology demonstrations and may have additional opportunities to work with Reclamation, USACE, or their partners to further develop their approaches. 

 

Challenge Structure 

Phase 1

  • Submissions must be received by October 20, 2020
  • As many as 5 of the top submissions will advance to Phase 2.  Winners each receive $75,000 (total of $375,000 awarded)

Phase 2

  • Phase 1 winners have approximately 15 months to work according to their proposed project plans, develop their proposed approaches, perform a laboratory-scale demonstration, and submit a report
  • As many as 3 of the top-performing approaches will advance to Phase 3.  Winners each receive $25,000 (total of $75,000 awarded)

Phase 3

  • Phase 2 winners have approximately 9 weeks to prepare for a large scale demonstration (scale, location, and other demonstration specifics to be mutually agreed upon), where they will set up and run their scaled-up demonstration for Reclamation, USACE, and their partners
  • A final event will occur at the end of Phase 3.  Teams participating in Phase 3 will present an overview of their approach and results to Reclamation, USACE, and possibly affiliated commercial partners
  • The top-performing approach wins $100,000
Guidelines
Timeline
Updates 13
Forum 17
Community 659
Press

Press

Give Me A Challenge: $550,000 Guardians of the Reservoir Challenge

July 17, 2020, 7 a.m. PDT
^Click Title to see full article. Reservoirs are bodies of stored fresh water that typically form behind dams. They are a critical water source, supplying farms with irrigation and providing potable water to people and homes. Increasingly, they are also an important component of outdoor, water-based recreation.

KTIC Radio: (Audio) Reclamation launches prize competition seeking innovative sediment removal of reservoirs

July 17, 2020, 6 a.m. PDT
^Click Title for full article. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is launching a $550,000 prize competition entitled “Guardians of the Reservoir,” looking for innovative ways to remove sediment from the nation’s reservoirs. Reclamation is partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, NASA Tournament Lab, and HeroX on this crowdsourcing competition. To learn more about this competition, please visit https://www.usbr.gov/research/challenges/sediment-removal.html. Chabella Guzman has more with U.S Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman:

Daily Republic Solano County: Reclamation issues challenge to find solution to reservoir sediment build-up

July 15, 2020, 6 a.m. PDT
^ Click Title for full article. LAKE BERRYESSA — Thirty years ago, when water levels were historically low in Lake Berryessa, the ruins on the outskirts of the old town of Monticello were exposed. There was a swimming pool that could be seen, and foundations of homes long ago razed. And there was the Capell Bridge, which rose above the water levels and allowed people to walk on its deck for the first time since the dam had been built and the reservoir was flooded.

USBR PRESS RELEASE: Bureau of Reclamation Partners with HeroX and NASA Tournament Lab to Crowdsource Innovative Sediment Removal Solutions for Critical Water Infrastructure

July 14, 2020, 6:29 a.m. PDT
^Click title to read full article. WASHINGTON, July 14, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), the nation's largest wholesale water supplier, in partnership with NASA Tournament Lab (NTL) and HeroX, the leading crowdsourcing platform for solutions to global problems, today announce the crowdsourcing competition "Guardians of the Reservoir". The challenge calls on the global community of solvers to find an innovative solution to remove and control the amount of silt building up in the reservoirs that provide millions with irrigation, potable water, electricity, flood control, and recreation. The build-up of silt leaves less room for water, and less water means that our reservoirs cannot meet the demand of the communities we serve. Such impacts have been experienced at some Reclamation reservoirs (e.g., Paonia Reservoir, Colorado) and are expected to occur more frequently in the future.

HEROX PRESS RELEASE: Reclamation launches prize competition seeking innovative sediment removal solutions for critical water infrastructure

July 14, 2020, 5:29 a.m. PDT
^Click Title for full article. WASHINGTON - The Bureau of Reclamation is launching a new prize competition that is seeking crowdsourced ideas that will lead to innovative sediment removal solutions for water infrastructure. The "Guardians of the Reservoir" challenge seeks ideas to remove or transport the amount of sediment building up in the reservoirs, replacing available space for water storage, that provide critical water supplies for the country. There will be up to a total of $550,000 in cash prizes available for the three-phase the competition.

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