Get answers to frequently asked questions.

What is the Canal Safety Challenge?

The Canal Safety Challenge is a public competition focused on discovering solutions to improve public safety and reduce drownings in canals throughout the United States. and make egress from the canals easier or allow for safer rescue and recovery efforts. We are looking for innovative and cost-effective alternatives to fencing, messaging, or signage. Proposals that describe the sole use of fencing, ladders, buoys, signage, etc. as a solution are not eligible. Refer to the Technical Guidelines for additional details.  The challenge asks individuals, teams, and organizations that meet the eligibility criteria to design and develop solutions to meet this need.

Who can participate?

Individuals, teams, and organizations that meet the eligibility criteria are welcome to submit a proposed solution.

United States government employees may participate so long as they are not acting within the scope of their position and do not rely on facilities, access, personnel, knowledge or other resources that are available to them as a result of their employment except for those resources available to all participants on an equal basis.

International participants are welcome to submit.

Refer to the Rules for a complete set of eligibility requirements.

What kind of rescue tactics, equipment, and methods are currently used to reduce drownings and make egress from the canals easier or allow for safer rescue and recovery efforts?

A variety of methods and equipment are used in rescue and recovery efforts, depending on the location and size of the conveyance facility.

In more rural areas and smaller canals, rescues are often attempted by the first person to come across the person or animal, using whatever might be available, such as a branch, rope, etc. In urban areas and larger canals, emergency services are often called for rescues. First responders, either law enforcement or fire fighters, will use whatever equipment they may have available for rescue – rope, ladder, Shepherd’s crook, etc. In some cases, there are cables or bridges across some canals where an able person has been able to grab and hold on until help arrives.

For recovery, there have been past situations where flow in the canal has been reduced to assist with the search and recovery efforts and reduce risk to the safety personnel.

We’re a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program grantee. Can we submit?

If you are a past grantee of the SBIR program, you may submit a proposed solution. If you are a current grantee, please note that no United States government funds may be used to prepare your submission. If you have any questions about your eligibility, please contact us at

How do I submit a proposed solution?

You must first register no later than Wednesday, January 27, 2021, at 5:00 PM Mountain. Registration is a simple two-step process. First, create a username and password, and then check your inbox to confirm your registration. Next, complete the online registration form. Once you are registered, submissions are due no later than Thursday, February 25, 2021, at 5:00 PM Mountain.

How will submissions be assessed?

There will be two rounds of scoring assessment. During the Evaluation Panel review, each valid submission will receive scores and comments from a highly qualified panel of expert reviewers who will use a scoring rubric to assess their assigned submissions. All scores are normalized to ensure fairness for everyone. Informed by the Evaluation Panel ranking of results, up to three top-scoring submissions will be named as Finalists. Finalists will attend a demonstration event where the Demonstration Event Panel will provide a recommendation on the Winner of the $100,000 award. Determination of the Winner rests with solely with the Competition Sponsor, Common Pool.

What can I win?

Finalists will receive an award of $50,000 each to build a functioning prototype according to their submitted proposals. The Winner will receive a $100,000 award.

What happens to my intellectual property?

While the Proposal Title, Proposal Description, Proposal Overview, and Video for your submission may be published on this website and/or the Bureau of Reclamation website, the ownership and use of intellectual property arising from this competition remains with you. The Bureau of Reclamation may choose to negotiate for a right to use license for winning solutions developed as a result of the competition.

I have a disability. How can I get help with my submission?

If you need assistance completing the registration and/or submission process, please contact us at We encourage people with disabilities to submit to the Canal Safety Challenge. We provide accommodations as needed.

How can I contact someone at the Bureau of Reclamation about my submission?

Please direct all questions regarding the Canal Safety Challenge to, and a member of our support team will respond as quickly as possible.

Are you ready to help prevent drownings in canals throughout the U.S.?

Submissions have closed.

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