The Okanagan could be a showcase for how technology can help solve water problems.

In the so-called Aquahacking Challenge, university students and recent graduates propose tech-based solutions to issues like poor water quality, limited supply, flooding and sewage disposal.

The winners of the competition, as determined by a panel of jurors, are awarded cash prizes totalling $50,000 to implement their strategy and start a business.

The Aquahacking Challenge has been running for five years in Eastern Canada, but plans are to bring it to B.C. in 2020 and 2021.

“There is a strong possibility that their board will select to focus the challenge on the Okanagan’s water issues, since most of B.C.’s freshwater concerns are found here,” says Anna Warwick Sears of the Okanagan Basin Water Board.

“It’s an exciting opportunity to showcase and provide access to our extensive water data, and link in university and tech partners, bringing a higher public profile to Okanagan water,” Sears says.

The “hackers” must be 18-35 and typically are interested in water science, engineering, programming and sustainable development.

They collaborate with local experts in fields such as artificial intelligence, marketing, data analysis and business strategy to pitch their technology solutions to various water problems.

It’s expected a decision on the next location for the Aquahacking Challenge will be made later this month or in June.

Program sponsors include IBM, the RBC Foundation and the de Gaspe Beaubien Foundation.

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