/ News / Bureau of Reclamation Partners with NASA Tournament Lab and HeroX to Crowdsource Innovative Solution to Limit Water Loss in Canals

Bureau of Reclamation Partners with NASA Tournament Lab and HeroX to Crowdsource Innovative Solution to Limit Water Loss in Canals

Parul Dubey on February 5, 2021 - in News, Water

Problem Solvers Needed for Effective, Durable, and Low-Maintenance Solution to Sustain Canals that Serve 30M Customers and 100M Aces of Farmland


WASHINGTON – 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 announced the crowdsourcing competition “Water America’s Crops Challenge.” The challenge calls on the global community of solvers to find an innovative, low-cost, and durable solution that will help reduce water seepage from Reclamation’s canals. Reclamation’s 8,116 miles of canals deliver water across six regions of the Western U.S. and collectively serve over 30 million customers and support 10 million acres of farmland that produce 60% of the nation’s vegetables and 25% of its fruits and nuts. This challenge seeks to reduce the amount of water lost during transport to Reclamation’s customers.

Water conservation has always been a critical initiative, but it has grown more important in the face of extreme droughts, floods, and other climate events. One way to conserve water is to reduce water losses, and specifically seepage of water into the subsurface. Seepage is the gradual loss of water through the base or walls of a canal, and represents the most significant cause of water loss in canals. Seepage may occur through permeable soils, through bedrock fractures, or a combination of both mechanisms. If not adequately addressed, seepage may result in a canal failure, which could be catastrophic for surrounding communities.

Reclamation currently employs a variety of methods for reducing seepage in canals. However, current methods have tradeoffs among effectiveness at reducing water loss, durability, and maintenance requirements—each of which can increase costs for Reclamation and the communities it serves.

This challenge seeks engineering innovations that reduce or eliminate these tradeoffs with an effective, durable, low-maintenance, and cost-effective solution that can address canal seepage in a variety of regions and conditions.

“This is the sort of challenge the HeroX community is made for,” said Christian Cotichini, CEO of HeroX. “The water seepage problem impacts a critical part of our infrastructure, and we are in need of innovations that are effective and economically sustainable.This is where the crowd can step in, with brilliant minds working worldwide to protect one of our most valuable resources: our water.”

The Challenge: The Bureau of Reclamation is seeking to accelerate new approaches and solutions for reducing seepage that can demonstrate strong performance in a laboratory environment and quickly scale toward field testing and commercialization. Solvers whose proposals are chosen as finalists will receive a prize purse at the end of Phase 1; testing and performance results of their prototype at Reclamation labs at the end of Phase 2; and an opportunity to pitch to Reclamation customers and communities at a showcase event after the end of Phase 2. The winner of the challenge will exhibit strong technical performance and be well-positioned to attract customers in Reclamation communities after the challenge is won. 

To learn more and become a solver, visit www.herox.com/WaterAmericasCrops


HeroX is a social network for crowdsourcing innovation and human ingenuity, co-founded in 2013 by serial entrepreneur, Christian Cotichini and XPRIZE Founder and Futurist, Peter Diamandis. HeroX offers a turnkey, easy-to-use platform that supports anyone, anywhere, to solve everyday business and world challenges using the power of the crowd. Uniquely positioned as the Social Network for Innovation, HeroX is the only place you can build, grow and curate your very own crowd.

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