Water Journal : Water Journal November 2016
www.awa.asn.au 18 2016 Innovation Challenge THE O INITIATIVE: 2015 INNOVATION CHALLENGE WINNER FOUNDER AND MANAGING DIRECTOR GRETHA OOST For ten years I've been on a quest to work out why Australians drink so much bottled water -- we throw out a million plastic water bottles a day. Suddenly I realised: on one hand we have bottled water promoted by supermodels in bikinis, on the other we have stainless steel objects -- drinking fountains -- that are mostly positioned next to rubbish bins. So I designed a new fountain. It's a refilling station that encourages people to use their own water bottle. What's particularly special about the O Fountain is it's a sculpture -- an obelisk organic shape 1.4-metres high with an O-shaped opening in the middle where you refill your water bottle. When people see a prototype they say, 'oooh I want to hug it!'. It won the challenge because it creates an emotional response, which re-establishes a positive connection with water. The fountain can also connect with communities through customised artwork on its surface. Winning the award [in 2015] has been helpful -- to be able to say that you're the winner of an innovation challenge organised by the Australian Water Association and Arup definitely gives you credibility. After winning the award I met with Zip Water who is now a founding partner. In the last few months I've gone from just having a concept on paper, to having a prototype and reaching WaterMark compliance, to having a product that is ready to 'wow' Australia and reduce our bottled water consumption. Proudly sponsored by AUSTRALIAN STOCKHOLM JUNIOR WATER PRIZE WINNER: MOHAMED JAKARIA Current caught up with winner of the 2016 Australian Stockholm Junior Water Prize winner, Mohamed Jakaria, about his participation in the international junior water research competition. I went to the international finals of the Stockholm Junior Water Prize in August and gave my presentation to the panel of judges. It was on the effect that increasing the surface area of Elodea canadensis had on effluent nitrate levels at Queensland's Beenleigh wastewater treatment plant. The judges interviewed me and, although I didn't win the international prize, they gave me some great input. For example, a judge from UNICEF really liked that my project was cost-effective and a lecturer from the University of Nevada liked the idea of using something that's looked down upon in Australia, and considered a weed, to clean water. The highlight of the entire week was meeting so many like-minded students and professionals from all these different countries. We had the chance to attend seminars with leading water researchers and what they highlighted was there is still much to discover about sanitation. Our aim should be to make clean water accessible to everyone in the world. Some of the people I met were so passionate that it was overwhelming, actually. I would say it's going to be interesting over the next 15 years to see where the water industry goes. As for me, I'm quite attached to my idea and I'd really like to take it further but I have a tough schedule studying biomedicine at the moment. If I have time, I could do this as a side project during the summer.
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