Charles River wins 2011 Thiess International Riverprize

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Brisbane, 27 September 2010. The US Charles River Watershed Association was awarded the Thiess International Riverprize 2011 for excellence in river management. The award was presented in Brisbane, Australia, on September 27. The $350,000 (approximately 250,000 EUR) award is divided between the winner and finalists, and is the most prestigious river prize in the world.

2011 Riverprize winners pose with prize check

Under the direction of the Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA), the Charles River has made a remarkable recovery from the 1950s when sewage and paint were discharged into the river. The Charles River now boasts better river health after the implementation of sustainable river management including innovative storm water management and water-sensitive urban development.

ICPDR President Mykola Melenevskyi was present at the ceremony and held talks with the International River Foundation on cooperating to establish a European River Prize as part of the build up to the International Prize – the ICPDR won the award for its work on the Danube in 2007.

Robert Zimmerman, CRWA’s Executive Director, thanked everyone involved in the operation on the Charles River and congratulated the finalists and all the other rivers that had applied for the Riverprize.

“We are all doing great work and as we face unsure times about climate change over the next 100 years the decisions and changes we make today can ensure the future is not so bad for our kids,” Mr Zimmerman said.

International River Foundation CEO, Matthew Reddy, said the close competition between the finalists was a good sign.

"There was a lot of competitive tension, but in the end there can only be one winner of the world's largest environmental prize," Mr Reddy said.

The Charles River was chosen because of its innovative and visionary sustainable program for river management. The Charles River Watershed Association has developed their water programme to include; urban design, sustainable infrastructure and eliminating barriers between water supply, wastewater and storm water management.

The CRWA now has the opportunity to develop a twinning program with another waterway, to spread their award winning knowledge and encourage others. The twinning program will receive support from the International River Foundation to ensure its sustainability. Melbourne Water were Highly Commended for their work around the Yarra River. This is only the second time a high commendation has been awarded in the history of the award.

“The competition this year was extremely tight and as a result the judges have had a tough time deciding on a winner for the award, all the finalists are to be congratulated on their efforts,” acknowledged Mr Reddy.

Each year, the Thiess International Riverprize is presented along with the National Riverprize, at the International Riversymposium.