Pathogen Monitoring Challenge launched by Bureau of Reclamation

By on May 15, 2018
California Drought Water Reclamation Program

The Bureau of Reclamation is looking to help with indirect and direct reuse of wastewater and have launched a new prize competition that is seeking improved methods to sample and monitor for pathogens, specifically viruses. Up to five prizes may be awarded for a total prize award pool of $80,000.

Reclamation is seeking solutions to improve on the current state of the technology for virus monitoring. Whereas Reclamation is overseeing this competition, Xylem, Inc. is a co-sponsor, contributing to all aspects as well as the prize purse. Other collaborators for various aspects of the competition include the Environmental Protection Agency and The Water Reuse Foundation.

The competition is a theoretical challenge. Participants will be asked to submit ideas, along with detailed descriptions, specifications, supporting data or literature and specified requirements necessary to bring the idea closer to becoming a product. Successful applicants/competitors will be required to accelerate the development of either direct or indirect virus monitoring methods for water reuse applications.

The competition sponsors have indicated that they are ultimately seeking the development of rapid, accurate, and preferably on-line/on-site monitoring techniques to provide added protection of public health and to optimize the design and operations of advanced water treatment facilities. While advanced water treatment technologies exist to produce high quality, potable water from wastewater, there is a need to better ensure treatment process integrity through improved pathogen detection and monitoring. Waterborne pathogens (e.g., bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and helminths) are regulated due to the risk they pose to human health and they must be limited in water intended for potable use.

The current competition is stage one of a planned two-stage challenge. If the first stage establishes that a second stage would be beneficial, a stage two will be undertaken as a separate and subsequent competition. If needed, the second stage of the challenge will ask participants to present their technology and submit a working prototype that puts their idea into practice.

If a second stage competition is launched it is anticipated that a larger purse will be made available. Applicants/candidates for a possible stage two will not have had to participate in the stage one competition.

Additional information on this pathogen monitoring challenge is available at: https://www.usbr.gov/research/challenges/pathogen.html. The challenge will remain open for submission through August 8, 2018.