The National Water Research Institute (NWRI) has announced that environmental engineer Jerald Schnoor of the University of Iowa will be the 2010 recipient of the NWRI Athalie Richardson Irvine Clarke Prize for excellence in water research. Schnoor was selected because of his leadership and impact on promoting the sustainable use of water.

The Clarke Prize will be presented to Schnoor July 15 at the Seventeenth Annual Clarke Prize Lecture and Award Ceremony, to be held at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in California. NWRI established the Clarke Prize in 1993 to recognize outstanding research scientists who have demonstrated excellence in water-science research and technology. The prize, which includes a medallion and $50,000 award, is presented annually.

Schnoor has taught courses in ground water, environmental modeling, water quality and sustainable systems at the University of Iowa since 1977. He also co-founded and co-directs the university’s Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, which is a state-funded institute devoted to studying and bettering our environment.

To ensure water use sustainability, Schnoor has focused much of his career on improving human management decisions to reduce negative impacts on water. For instance, early in his career, he developed models of the complex chemistry of acid rain and its impacts on aquatic systems and watersheds. He played a central role in linking acid rain to lake acidification, which ultimately resulted in his “Trickle Down” model being adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and later used to guide the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments.

Schnoor also was one of the first researchers to investigate using plants to take up toxic organic chemicals and other pollutants (a process known as phytoremediation) as a means to remediate contaminated hazardous waste sites – fostering a new green technology for the treatment of soil and ground water. He since has established a phytoremediation technology laboratory with funding from the W.M. Keck Foundation, one of the nation's largest philanthropic organizations.

Among his recent work, Schnoor chaired a National Research Council committee on the “Water Implications of Biofuels Production in the United States,” which noted water quality and availability problems associated with increasing ethanol production from corn. He was also selected as co-director for the National Science Foundation Project Office on the WATERS (WATer and Environmental Research Systems) Network, a $300 million proposal to construct a national environmental observatory network for sensing, modeling, and forecasting water and contaminants.

Established in honor of NWRI’s co-founder, the late Athalie Richardson Irvine Clarke, the Clarke Prize is awarded to outstanding research scientists who are currently active in the water and wastewater fields. It is one of only a dozen water prizes awarded worldwide and has been distinguished by the International Congress of Distinguished Awards as one of the most prestigious awards in the world.