Last week, the Everglades Foundation announced a scientific challenge: Solve the chronic phosphorus pollution problem and win $10 million. The winning project must demonstrate phosphate reduction on an increasingly larger scale; from the laboratory to a pool, to the Kissimmee River, while also recycling the removed phosphorus into fertilizer products. The prize will be funded by an anonymous donation.
In a press briefing, Foundation chief Eric Eikenberg said that the problem is one of the world’s most daunting, and that the solution requires a public-private partnership. The goal is to reduce the phosphorus levels to 40 parts per billion, a concentration that is six to nine times lower that current levels.
The challenge also takes into account the growing global shortage of phosphate rock, the world supply of which is controlled by only five countries (U.S., China, South Africa, Jordan and Morocco). The Foundation expects many applicants and believes that researchers are already working on the issue at universities across the nation.