2016 Riverprize Finalists Announced

Three outstanding finalists from Spain and the United States are in the running for the 2016 Theiss International Riverprize. A big congratulations goes to the teams working in the Segura (Spain), Elwha (USA) and Niagara (USA) Rivers! The initiatives that have helped these teams reach the final stage are incredible. We thought that we would share their projects here, because one of the best ways to improve what we do is to find out about what others are doing around the world.

Segura River – Spain

Segura River - Riverprize 2016Since 1986, wastewater due to agriculture and canned food production has been discharged into the Segura River. In response to this situation, the Segura River Project was developed by the Murica Government’s Regional Water Department, in partnership with the Segura River Authority, in order to restore the health of the Segura River and to supply reclaimed water to the booming agriculture industry.

A major breakthrough was achieved in 2003 when the quality of the Segura’s water started improving. This was as a result of the construction of wastewater collection systems and treatment plants. Since 2010, pollution in the river has been unnoticeable, leading to the recovery of fauna and flora. In addition, two recovered wetland areas are recognised by the Ramsar Convention.

Niagara River – USA

Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper is helping to guide the transformation of this area to one that values and maintains the integrity of its fresh water systems as a major component of regional economic revitalisation.

Niagara River - RiverprizeWestern New York forms a land bridge between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, and is home to one of the most recognisable water features in the world – the Niagara Falls. The region’s past, present and future is directly tied to the relationship with the Great Lakes and fresh water resources. With the threat of climate change, combined with ongoing impairment of the lakes, there is urgency to change the way that their watershed is managed. The work of the Riverkeeper has evolved into a systems-level approach to securing Great Lakes watershed resiliency. Riverkeeper has implemented many projects to help to restore this area, including:

  • establishing cross sector partnerships,
  • producing innovative ecosystem and watershed planning,
  • designing, constructing and monitoring habitat restoration, and
  • addressing 150 years of sewage pollution.

Elwha River – USA

Elwha River - Riverprize 2016For millennia, the Elwha River produced high numbers of Pacific salmon, an important cultural touchstone and substance food source for indigenous people. However, in the 1900s, the construction of two privately owned hydroelectric dams on the river impacted blocked fish migration and disrupted river sediment transport, changing the structure and function of the river, and impacting salmon populations.

Years of political processes and numerous mitigation projects, including creating new water treatment infrastructure, raising flood control levees, and upgrading wastewater treatment. Between 2011 and 2014 the dams on Elwha River were removed, resulting in the release of millions of cubic meters of sediment downstream, and fish passage past former dam sites into protected habitats such as national parks and an International Biosphere Reserve. The project now serves as a living laboratory of cultural and ecosystem restoration as the salmon return to the river.

The winner of the International Riverprize will be announced at the Riversymposium being held in New Delhi on the 12-14 September. More information about the International Riverprize and the individual projects is available here.

We wish all the nominees success in what looks to be a very competitive field!



This article was adapted from the International River Foundation website.