Orange County Water District Microbiologist Wins 2002 Clarke Prize

Orange County Water District (OCWD) today announced that its research director for the Water Resources and Technology Department, Harry F. Ridgway, Ph.D., is the ninth recipient of the Athalie Richardson Irvine Clarke Prize for excellence in water research.

The 2002 Clarke Prize will be presented to Dr. Ridgway on June 20 at the Ninth Annual Clarke Prize Award Ceremony and Lecture to be held in Newport Beach, Calif.

Ridgway won the prize for 25 years of pioneering work and significant studies on membrane technology, particularly the discovery of the crucial role that microorganisms play in influencing the structure, function, and effectiveness of membrane materials used in purifying water and wastewater (the process is known as biofouling). He has also developed new methodologies to observe, measure, and quantify bacterial attachment to membranes under controlled conditions in the laboratory.

Because of his many accomplishments, nearly every purification membrane manufacturer in the world has worked directly with Ridgway to test and reformulate their newest and most advanced membrane materials to reduce the effects of biofouling. In addition, today's membrane processes are much more efficient and less costly due to research and developments made possible by his work.

Currently, Ridgway is building a database to determine the ability of membranes to reject organic contaminants of concern, such as pharmaceuticals, insecticides, and disinfection byproducts. His overall goal is to develop models that will help the water industry identify membranes that can remove specific organic contaminants.

The Prize, which includes a gold medallion and $50,000 award, is presented annually. This award is sponsored by the National Water Research Institute (NWRI) and was established in 1993 by Clarke, co-founder of the National Water Research Institute, to award outstanding research scientists who have implemented better water-science research and technology.

The Clarke Prize is one of only a dozen water research prizes awarded throughout the world. In addition, it has been distinguished by the International Congress of Distinguished Awards as one of the most prestigious awards in the world.

The Orange County Water District is a special water agency created by the California Legislature in 1933 to maintain and manage the huge groundwater basin under northern Orange County. The groundwater basin managed by OCWD supplies 75% of the water needs to more than 2 million area residents.

The National Water Research Institute was founded by a group of Southern California water agencies in partnership with the Joan Irvine Smith and Athalie R. Clarke Foundation to promote the protection, maintenance, and restoration of water supplies and to protect freshwater and marine environments through the development of cooperative research work.

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