Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize 2016 awarded to globally-renowned hydrogeologist in conjunction with World Water Day

Professor John Anthony Cherry is announced as the 7th Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize Laureate for his lifelong contributions to the advancement of groundwater science and technology

Left to Right: Mr Bernard Tan, Managing Director, Singapore International Water Week, Mr Ng Joo Hee, Chief Executive, PUB, Professor John Anthony Cherry, Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize 2016 laureate, and Mr Harry Seah, Chief Engineering and Technology Officer, PUB

The Singapore International Water Week, a biennial event that gathers leaders and innovators from the global water industry on a single platform, today awarded the prestigious Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize 2016 to world-renowned hydrogeologist, Professor John Anthony Cherry. The announcement of the Water Prize Laureate this year marks the first time it is held in conjunction with World Water Day to emphasise the integral role water has in affecting communities and economies of all sizes.

Currently in its 7th edition, the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize has consistently attracted world-class talent and excellence in individuals or organizations who drive the development or application of innovative technologies, policies or programmes that aim to solve global water challenges. This year, the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize Council lauds Prof Cherry for his contributions and influence in groundwater management, and lifelong dedication to the protection of groundwater resources – a major water source for many countries around the world and one that constitutes 95%[1] of the usable freshwater on the planet. A leading authority in hydrogeology, Prof Cherry’s revolutionary research in collaboration with international partners has provided the global groundwater community with a better scientific framework to formulate policies and best practices. He has been a major influence in advancing global recognition of groundwater processes and the development of better field methods for groundwater contamination.

The revolutionary research findings and policy impact by Prof Cherry have contributed to more effective risk management in groundwater pollution control measures, as well as revisions and formulation of new groundwater remediation guidelines and approaches in several countries including the United States. The effect of his contributions have also established new models for public-private partnerships for groundwater research.

Adding to his list of accomplished achievements, the monitoring technologies and clean-up processes developed by Prof Cherry have been implemented in areas that face groundwater contamination, including those in the United States, China, and Brazil, among others. In fact, one of the most important insights unearthed by Prof Cherry subsequently formed the theoretical basis for the set of benchmark criteria used in the disposal of hazardous industrial and nuclear waste, which has been incorporated into regulatory frameworks.

Prof Cherry is also an advocate for the need to monitor and research the effects of shale gas exploitation and fracking on groundwater resources. In recent years, he has focused his research on fractured rock, the least understood of all groundwater systems but one that is particularly susceptible to contamination. His knowledge in fractured rock hydrology and rock drilling has contributed towards the supply of safe drinking water to people living in mountainous bedrock regions with limited vehicle access. Prof Cherry remains active in the scientific community and is currently leading an international team to acquire and test small, low-cost portable rock drills to make small-capacity wells that are designed to have a low risk of bacterial contamination.

Mr Tan Gee Paw, Chairman of the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize Nominating Committee, said, “Prof Cherry exemplifies the attributes needed to drive the development of innovative solutions that address the global water crises. To create real impact and influence policymaking and regulations require courageous, informed and decisive action. This is clearly reflected in Prof Cherry’s approach to field research and advocacy. The insights and contributions made by Prof Cherry form today’s framework in understanding one of the world’s most precious water resources, and ultimately lead to the provision of safe drinking water to populations that rely primarily on groundwater resources.”

Professor John Anthony Cherry added, “It is an incredible honour to receive the prestigious Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize, and to be accepting the recognition in conjunction with World Water Day speaks volumes of its significance. I am confident that global accolades such as the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize will heighten awareness of the global water challenges and encourage the development of innovative water solutions and technologies for more effective water management and protection of our water resources.”

As the 7th Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize Laureate, Professor John Anthony Cherry will deliver the Singapore Water Lecture on 11 July 2016. He will also receive the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize at the Lee Kuan Yew Prize Award Ceremony and Banquet on the same night. The award ceremony is one of the flagship programmes of the Singapore International Water Week, which will be held from 10th-14th July 2016, co-located with the World Cities Summit and CleanEnviro Summit Singapore. The 7th Singapore International Water Week will feature a range of flagship programmes and platforms that bring together the global value chain of water to share the latest in business and technological innovations, as well as policy developments in water.

[1]UN Environment Programme Report on Groundwater and its Susceptibility to Degradation