Professor, clean water advocate share Heinz environmental award

Two individuals will share the 13th annual Heinz Award for the Environment, scheduled to be presented Oct. 22 in Pittsburgh.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor on

Two individuals will share the 13th annual Heinz Award for the Environment, scheduled to be presented Oct. 22 in Pittsburgh. Each year, $250,000 awards in five achievement categories are presented by Teresa Heinz and the Heinz Family Foundation to honor the memory of her late husband, Senator John Heinz of Pennsylvania.

This year, two people will be recognized for their environmental work. While not strictly green tech, both are looking at alternatives to the "way we do things."

The first recipient, Dr. Bernard Amadei, is the civil engineer who founded Engineers Without Borders – USA at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Amadei leads an organization that has addressed basic quality of life issues in 224 projects in approximately 45 countries over the seven years of its existence. The more than 8,000 volunteers in Engineers Without Borders (including oodles of university students) work on issues related to water delivery systems, electricity and sanitation.

The reason I’m blogging about this award is because the Engineers Without Borders – USA projects are focused on finding sustainable solutions to these problems. For example, the group has supervised the installation of solar-powered lighting and a water purification system in Brazil and worked on a natural water filtration and storage system in Honduras.

The second recipient is Susan Seacrest, who established the Groundwater Foundation, which (like it sounds) concerns itself with protecting the quality of the nation’s groundwater supply. Keeping the supply clean without adding chemicals. Seacrest, who is from Nebraska, initially was concerned with the effect of pesticides and nitrates and its possible relationship to elevated leukemia and non-Hodgkins lymphoma cases in her home state. She was spurred into action in 1984 when her infant son became ill.

The central focus of the Groundwater Foundation is reform through education. It began working locally with farmers to address the reduction of nitrate levels in the Nebraska High Plains Aquifer but now touches projects in more than 35 states through its Groundwater Guardian program. One core focus is educating children through efforts like the annual Children’s Groundwater Festival and a four-day summer camp called Groundwater University. The group’s latest program is Hydro Heroes, for pre-teens and teens.

Bravo Bernard and Susan!

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