Illinois Sustainable Technology Center - University of Illinois

Sketch of a faucet with water flowing out to form the word 'one' for the one billion gallon water challengeBillion Gallon Water Challenge

Illinois Sustainable Technology Center Challenges Researchers, Businesses, Citizens to Save Water in Every Sector

A Billion Gallon Water Challenge was announced Friday, April 11, by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) to preserve and protect water resources in Illinois.

Illinois Water DayISTC has committed the resources of its sponsored research program for 2014 to projects which will quantifiably contribute to its goal to save 1,000,000,000 gallons of water in Illinois. The Center also is encouraging people, businesses, organizations, communities, and schools of Illinois to join the challenge by making a personal pledge at the Billion Gallon Water Challenge website:

The challenge was announced Friday at the Illinois Water Day Conference on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus. This was part of the UN’s World Water Day recognition. ISTC presented posters about their Billion Gallon Water Challenge and their other water use and reuse projects.

The safety and accessibility of water supplies has been cited as a major concern by the World Health Organization, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The National Academy of Engineering named the quality and quantity of water as one of the Grand Challenges for Engineering. Now the Illinois Legislature has passed versions of legislation that will help provide $2 billion to improve drinking and wastewater infrastructure across the state and are working to expand that program to include urban flooding and cleaning up pollution in Illinois rivers, lakes and streams.

“Even in a water-rich state like ours, competition for this resource has increased, and will continue to increase,” said ISTC Director Kevin O’Brien. “Drought conditions around the nation have impacted Illinois severely over the past few years. We need to pursue every avenue to preserve water now and for the next generations.”

The ISTC research solicitation invited faculty, engineers, consultants and others to propose innovations to minimize the use and waste of Illinois’ freshwater resources needed for drinking, hygiene, irrigation, industry, habitats, recreation and many other needs.

“Technology will play a key role in maintaining our access to clean water, diverse habitats, and economic prosperity,” said Kishore Rajagopalan, Illinois’ State Pollution Prevention Scientist, and Associate Director for Applied Research at ISTC. “Our businesses, institutions and the people of Illinois will also play a key role by adopting improved ways to cut waste and use our water wisely.”

ISTC has partnered with WaterSense, the U.S. EPA’s program to promote wise water use through purchasing, process and usage decisions. WaterSense offers a wealth of information to help citizens make a difference in water protection and conservation.

To take the Illinois Billion Gallon Water Challenge, visit

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