Our Mission: To connect and enrich the Illinois water community
and increase the awareness of the impact and value of water.

Clean Water Awards


Please see the Illinois Junior Academy of Science Website for more information.


Awards Background
In 1986, the Illinois Water Environment Association (IWEA) joined with the Illinois Junior Academy of Science (IJAS) in presenting the Clean Water Awards at their State Science Exposition. These Awards are presented to students whose science projects best demonstrate the application of scientific methods in their research in an area relating to our surface, underground or atmospheric water environment. By acknowledging the efforts of students conducting investigations on projects relating to our water environment, the IWEA hopes to encourage Illinois youth to become interested in improving the quality of our water resources and protecting all aspects of our environment.

The objectives of the IJAS and the IWEA include giving students 1) some insight into the problems and methods of thinking that are unique to the scientist, but that are applicable to other occupations, 2) information concerning new investigations and discoveries in science, and 3) an understanding of equipment used in scientific investigations. Presentation of these awards helps accomplish these objectives and by participating in scientific investigations, students fulfill several of the Illinois State Goals and Learning Standards.
Criteria and Guidelines
These awards are for student science projects aimed at improving the quality of life through improvement of water quality, water resources management, water protection, or water and wastewater treatment. The projects can apply these criteria, for example, by focusing on water environment problems or improving water management in watersheds, including projects aimed at solving community water problems. The projects may focus on local, regional, national or global topics, and contestants in both theoretical and applied science are welcome.

We recommend that the research paper include a problem statement that clearly explains how the project can contribute to a solution. Even if the project itself may not solve the problem, it should demonstrate how the activities in the project can play a role in a solution. Furthermore, each project should try to address a cause-effect solution. This means studying not only the environmental effect (e.g. nitrogen load in a lake system), but also the causes behind the problem and ways of solving the problem.
Seventh through twelfth grade students from member schools of the Academy qualify for the State Exposition by participating in 12 Regional competitions throughout the state. The 1000 best projects are selected for the State Exposition held at the Assembly Hall, University of Illinois , Urbana-Champaign Campus. State Expositions have been scheduled for May 7 & 8, 2010, May 6 & 7, 2011, May 4 & 5, 2012, May 3 & 4, 2013 and May 9 & 10, 2014.

Eligible projects are judged in accordance to the criteria published by the IJAS in their Policy and Procedure Manual. You can access the manual on the web page www.ijas.org. There you can also find dates and contact information for the Regional competitions, the State paper and project session winners each year, and much more.
Clean Water Award winners are honored with a Grand Prize Award to the best project in both the Senior Division (Grades 9-12) and the Junior Division (Grades 7-8) and up to five (5) Honorable Mention Awards for other outstanding projects. All winners will receive an award ribbon, certificate of commendation and a U. S. Savings Bond. Consistent with the Academy’s rules for special awards, projects involving more than one student are not eligible for a Clean Water Award.
Further Competition
In addition, the Senior Division (Grades 9-12) Clean Water Award winners are eligible to participate in another youth award competition for water science research projects: the Illinois Stockholm Junior Water Prize (SJWP). The Illinois SJWP winner will compete with other State winners in a National competition. Transportation and all local expenses will be provided for the winner and teacher sponsor to compete at the National competition. For more information on the SJWP, go to the web site http://www.wef.org/SJWP/.
Project Research Assistence
Science teachers at Illinois Junior Academy of Science member schools can help the interested student develop their project. Also, assistance may be provided by contacting science departments at community colleges and state universities, or from someone engaged in active environmental research.

Potential areas of research the student can consider include:
  • Effects of pollutants on aquatic animals and plants.
  • Effects of waterborne pollutants on public health.
  • Effects of water pollutants on the physical, chemical, thermal, radiological or bacteriological quality of the water environment.
  • Effects of pollutants on the beneficial uses of the water environment including domestic, recreational, agricultural and industrial uses.
  • Controls and pollution prevention practices to minimize the transport of pollutants by stormwaters.
  • Improved conventional or innovative processes for wastewater treatment, sludge (biosolids) treatment and disposal.
  • Resource recovery or reuse of nutrients from wastewater biosolids.
  • Effects of airborne pollutants on the water environment. 

Online assistance websites:
  • The USEPA's Office of Water website “What’s Up in the Environment” at www.epa.gov/ow/kids.html provides information to assist younger students and links to other environmental websites.
  • The New York Public Television website includes “Hot Topics” by media, e.g. water, land, air and energy. Their water resources link provides additional websites for groundwater, watersheds and wetlands, as well as class projects and cool careers in the environment. Go to http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/wue/hot_topics.html.
  • The Water Environment Research Foundation provides summaries of research completed on a variety of issues in the water environment at http://www.werf.org/net/search.aspx. There you might find a topic that you wish to further research.
  • The Cornell University website “The Environmental Inquiry for Grades 9-12” at http://ei.cornell.edu/teacher/ was developed to help students conduct environmental science research. The site provides topic ideas and research assistance guidelines for high school students. Note the Downloadable Forms for the Student Work segment which can be used by students in planning experiments, analyzing data, and engaging in peer review. Also this segment provides links to four Scientific Inquiry Series Manuals (Assessing Toxic Risk; Invasion Ecology; Decay and Renewal and Watershed Dynamics) that may help you in conducting and organizing your research. 

Winning Projects

Winning Clean Water Award projects have investigated:
  • Effects of toxic chemicals on fresh water animals.
  • PCB and DDT bioaccumulations in benthic organisms.
  • Methods of decontaminating PCB sediments from river harbors.
  • Effect of a sewage treatment plant on the chemical attributes of a stream.
  • Environmental effects of atrazine.
  • Reaction kinetics of bacteria oxidizing ammonia in a biofilter.
  • Effects of treatment plant discharges on receiving stream macroinvertebrates.
  • Effects of strip mining on surface water quality.
  • Use of carbon enhanced conservation buffer strips to mitigate agrichemical runoff.
  • Effects of acid rain on lake water quality.
  • Bioremediation of hydrocarbons from petroleum spills.
  • Effect of oil spills on plant growth.
  • Use of zebra mussels and hydroponic wheat to treat swine waste.
  • Phytoremedial technologies to decontaminate polluted waters.
  • Effects of organic and synthetic fertilizers on the growth of filamentous algae.
  • Indigenous Remediation: a natural process for purifying contaminated waters.
  • The effect of river bank conditions on aquatic ecosystems.
  • Bioremediation: the effectiveness of Pseudomonas putida on carbon contamination. 

Additional Information
The IJAS Policy and Procedure Manual (www.ijas.org) provides pertinent information for parents on their role (which we recommend they read), valuable information for the student on writing the scientific research paper, developing the oral presentation, and planning an attractive exhibit.

Winning science projects require appropriate planning, careful design, and sufficient time for the student to scientifically analyze the results. Consequently, requests for project research assistance should be made well in advance of the Science Exposition date. 

List of Clean Water Awards Winners