Thiess International Riverprize by the Bert and Vera Thiess Foundation

  • Winner: James River Association | James River, Virginia, USA

    When James River Association was founded in 1976, the James River was considered one of the most polluted rivers in the country with large sections declared dead or unfit for human use. Through four decades of consistent and continued effort, the James River has transformed from one of the most polluted in the country to one of the most improved. Learn about their story here | Watch video here

    Finalists:

    Chicago River, USA | Friends of the Chicago River
    Whangawehi Stream, New Zealand | Whangawehi Catchment Management Group

  • Winner: San Antonio River Authority | San Antonio River, Texas, USA

    The San Antonio River Authority (SARA) have been managing point-source pollution issues effectively in their 10,000 square-kilometre basin since the late 1980s, leading to the return of healthy aquatic and riparian habitat. Learn about their story here | Watch video here

    Finalists:

    Nushagak and Kvichak River, Alaska, USA | Bristol Bay Land Heritage Trust
    Tweed River, UK | Tweed Forum
    Pasig River, Philippines | Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC)

  • Winner: Buffalo-Niagara Riverkeeper | Niagara River, USA

    Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper has leveraged hundreds of millions of dollars in cross-sector partnerships to place freshwater systems at the heart of the community, which now values and maintains the integrity of these systems. Years of hard work has seen the transformation of the Niagara River from a historical rust belt region to a newly restored ecosystem for the Great Lakes. Watch video here

    Finalists:

    Segura River, Spain | Segura River Basin Authority and Murcia Government Regional Water Department
    Elwha River, USA | US Department of the Interior and Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe

  • Lake Eyre Basin, Australia | Lake Eyre Basin Partnership

    The Lake Eyre Basin Partnership drove the protection of the Lake Eyre Basin, having emerged through the Lake Eyre Basin Intergovernmental Agreement—focusing state, territory and the Australian governments on protecting its free-flowing rivers—and the Community Advisory Committee and Scientific Advisory Panel, appointed by the Lake Eyre Basin Ministerial Forum. The 20-year partnership kept rivers healthy while encouraging sustainable economic growth, particularly in the areas of tourism and organic beef production. Watch video here

    Finalists:

    Jordan River, Israel and Palestine | EcoPeace Middle East
    River Mur, Austria | Styrian Government Department of Water Resources and freiland Consulting Engineers

  • Winner: International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine | River Rhine, Transnational (Europe)

    The International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine (ICPR) received the award for bringing Europe’s River Rhine back to life following a devastating chemical accident in 1986, which wiped out nearly all biological life. Prior to the accident, industrialisation and burgeoning populations had already caused major degradation to the river and as early as the 1960s, the Rhine, which flows through six countries, was notoriously known as the ‘sewer of Europe’. The restoration of the Rhine has taken the best part of a century, and involved extensive transboundary river management and cooperation. Now, almost all of the 58 million inhabitants of the Rhine catchment are connected to urban wastewater treatment plants, water quality has improved considerably and inventories show that fish species composition in the Rhine is almost back to what is was before the chemical spill. Watch video here

    Finalists:

    Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority | Glenelg River, Australia
    Petitcodiac Riverkeeper | Petitcodiac River, Canada
    San Antonio River Authority | San Antonio River, USA

  • Winner: Mara River Water Users Association | Mara River, Kenya

    With a clear vision and in anticipation of potential conflict arising over scarce water resources, the community-based Mara River Water Users Association overcame significant challenges and successfully collaborated with farmers, community groups, NGOs, consultants and many other stakeholders to implement the Mara River Environmental Management Initiative. Almost 1000 farmers within the basin have been educated and had their farms terraced, a 40km stretch of riverbank has been restored, and 40 springs have also been protected – providing easy access to clean water and reducing water-borne diseases. These on-ground works were targeted through an integrated program of catchment and river management activities. Watch video here

    Finalists:

    Iliolo City Council | Iliolo River, Philippines
    Murray-Darling Basin Authority | Murray-Darling Basin, Australia
    Let’s Save Salmon Together | Bolshaya River, Russia

  • Winner: Meyer Memorial Trust | Willamette River, USA

    The Willamette River Initiative was chosen for its effective, collaborative approach that has resulted in marked improvements to the health of the river over the past decade.  The project tackled a range of challenges including toxic chemical threat, high water temperatures, a confined channel, dam-altered flows, loss of floodplain forests, population growth and climate change. Watch video here

    Finalists:

    Nushagak-Mulchatna and Wood-Tikchik Land Trust | Nushagak River, USA
    Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission | Okavango River Basin, Transnational (Africa)
    Society for the Protection of Prespa | Prespa Lakes, Greece

  • Winner: Charles River Watershed Association | Charles River, USA

    In 1965, when the Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA) was founded, the river commonly ran in colors, depending on the paint being manufactured nearby. Sewage overflows were common and outfalls discharged industrial waste.  Rowers who fell into the river routinely received tetanus shots and a course of antibiotics, and as recently as 1996, though the river was no longer a palette of colors, water quality had scarcely improved. The Charles became one of the USA’s cleanest urban rivers following its transformation, the story of a small science and engineering-oriented, grassroots nonprofit watershed association and the concerted efforts of many others. Watch video here

    Finalists:

    Mattole River and Range Partnership | Mattole River, USA
    Melbourne Water | Yarra River, Australia

  • Winner: Environment Agency and Thames River Restoration Trust | River Thames, UK

    From being declared biologically dead in the 1950s the River Thames  made a remarkable recovery, with salmon and otters returning to the river. The Agency also looked to the river’s ecological potential in the long term through The Thames Estuary 2100 vision is a 100 year adaptable plan directing the future sustainable management of tidal flood risk in the Thames estuary. Watch video here

    Finalists:

    Mallee Catchment Management Authority | Hattah Lakes, Australia
    Sakhalin Environment Watch | Sakhalin River Partnership, Russia
    Yellow River Conservancy Commission | Yellow River, China

  • Winner: Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority | Lake Simcoe, Canada

    The Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA) is a community-based environmental agency that was established to manage natural resources on a watershed basis, and to initiate local improvement programs. The LSRCA worked in partnership with communities and municipal, provincial and federal governments to deliver practical and costeffective local solutions to address a range of natural resource challenges, delivering programs in science and research, protection and restoration, and education and outreach.

    Finalists:

    Los Angeles Department of Water and Power | Lower Owens River, USA
    Natural England | Avon River, UK
    WWF Central America | Polochic Basin, Guatemala
    Yellow River Conservancy Commission | Yellow River, China

  • Winner: St Johns River Water Management District | St Johns River, USA

    The Upper St. Johns River Basin Project was a large wetland restoration project aimed at reviving the headwaters of Florida’s (USA) longest river—the northward flowing St. Johns. Thirty-years of efforts by state and federal water managers to revive a big swath of freshwater marshes in east-central Florida were recognised by this award. Watch video here

    Finalists:

    Healthy River Program and Swan River Trust | Swan Canning River System, Australia
    Lake Macquarie Project Management Committee | Lake Macquarie, Australia