Nishita Sinha from Chatham, N.J. has won the 2016 U.S. Stockholm Junior Water Prize (SJWP)—the most prestigious youth competition for water-related research. Sinha and 53 other students, representing a total of 47 states and Puerto Rico, competed in the national finals this past weekend at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Worldwide, 2.4 billion people are exposed to public health and environmental threats because they lack access to reliable and affordable sanitation options. One promising alternative is a simple two-pit composting toilet that uses a natural anaerobic process to treat solid waste. Despite its efficacy, concerns remain about fecal coliform bacteria in the liquid waste and the impacts on local drinking water sources. Sinha’s two-phase project, “Experimental Studies in Developing Safe Sanitation Solutions,” tested potential low-cost additives to improve this process and evaluated the associated design constraints.
“Nishita’s study to develop safe sanitation solutions showed not only an understanding of the technical issues associated with designing sanitary facilities to decompose the organic component of waste, but also recognized the need to reduce the bacterial concentration associated with the waste,” said Jeanette Brown, Chair of the SJWP Review Committee. “The novel way she tested her hypothesis revealed that fecal coliform could be reduced by 83 percent. We look forward to seeing the results of her continued research and the perfection of her design.”
Sinha received $10,000USD and an all-expense paid trip to Stockholm, Sweden where she will represent the United States at the international competition during World Water Week, Aug. 28-Sept. 2. The international winner will receive $15,000USD presented during a royal ceremony by the prize’s Patron HRH Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden.
Other competition winners included the two U.S. runners up, Paige Brown (Maine) and Megan Lange (Ala.) who each received $1,000; and Sarayu Das (S.C.) who received the Bjorn von Euler Innovation in Water Scholarship Award.
In the United States, the Water Environment Federation and its Member Associations organize the regional, state, and national SJWP competitions with support from Xylem Inc., who also sponsors the international competition and the $1,000 Bjorn von Euler Innovation in Water Scholarship Award.