Submission Process


Propose your solution to improve public health and prevent drownings.

Please read all of the submission requirements before completing each section. All submissions must be submitted in English. Portions of your submission, including the Proposal Title, Proposal Description, Proposal Overview, and Video, may be published on this website; the remainder of your submission will only be viewed by prize administrators and reviewers.

Be sure to review your submission as it will appear after it’s been submitted (link at the bottom of the page) and confirm your changes have been saved. When you have completed all of the requirements, a message will be displayed on the screen. At that point, you can submit. Once you have submitted, you will no longer be able to make changes and the status on your dashboard will confirm submission (you will not receive an automated email confirmation).

You must complete your submission no later than Thursday, February 25, 2021, at 5:00 PM Mountain.


Offer a brief and compelling overview of your proposal. Avoid using jargon, abbreviations, or language that a layperson may not understand.


Provide a title for your proposal. Choose a name that easily identifies your solution and distinguishes it from any other proposal.


Provide a short description of your proposal in one sentence.


Provide a summary description of the solution you are proposing to improve public safety and reduce drownings in canals throughout the United States. Your Proposal Overview should be a stand-alone statement of the problem and solution. It should not require any other context to clearly explain what you propose to accomplish. Focus on delivering a compelling overview so that the Evaluation Panel members assigned to score your submission will want to read more.


The following information is required to capture a basic understanding of the leadership, structure, vision, and capabilities of the people working on this proposal. Individuals, teams of individuals, and organizations may apply. While government agencies cannot register or submit, individuals affiliated with government agencies can be recognized as part of a team so long as no governmental resources are used to develop the submission or perform actual work leading to prototype.

CAPABILITIES (250 words)

Describe your or your team’s skills, capacity, and experience to deliver the proposed solution. Be sure to include core competencies and how they apply to your solution, any relevant past projects or experience, and any other additional details that support your ability to deliver a prototype of your solution.


Here is your opportunity to provide the details of your proposed solution for the Canal Safety Challenge. For the purposes of this competition, you may assume that “watering up” of the canal from dry to an operational level would occur at a maximum rate of water surface elevation increase of 2 feet per hour, with no option to “water down.” The canal can be assumed to be between 100 and 1,000 linear feet long with no bends. Be sure to emphasize how your proposed solution aligns with the four criteria that will be used to assess each valid submission (see Scoring Rubric).


Describe the solution that you plan to prototype. How does it meet the goals of the Canal Safety Challenge to improve public safety and reduce drownings in canals throughout the United States? How might it make egress from the canals easier or allow for safer rescue and recovery efforts? Focus on how your solution will meet the Technical Guidelines that the Bureau of Reclamation has identified. If you plan to build on an existing product or technology, describe the baseline and specific changes you intend to make. If you are creating a new solution, provide an explanation for that decision and a summary of the principles of operation.

NOTE: We are looking for innovative and cost-effective alternatives to fencing, messaging, or signage. 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.


Water can flow rapidly in a canal and can be significantly more dangerous than it seems. During hot weather, that same dangerous water can appear refreshing and a good way to cool off. How will your solution contribute to the safety of children, adults, and animals? How will your solution prevent drownings? Describe, if applicable, how your solution will improve safety for rescue personnel.


Your proposed solution should not impede water flow in the canals or have an adverse effect on the operation and maintenance of the canals. Describe how your solution will be installed and maintained. How will your solution ensure minimal impact on canal operations? How will it minimize impacts on the local environment?

DURABILITY (150 words)

Describe the physical properties of your solution and its expected lifespan. What is its size and weight? Does it have any power requirements? Conditions near canals vary considerably in weather and landscape. Is your solution weather and grime resistant? If the solution is to be used in the water, how water resistant is it? Are there any noise considerations?

SCALABILITY (150 words)

Canals vary widely in their geometries and materials. (Refer to the Technical Guidelines for a detailed description.) How would your solution address the variation in canal shapes, materials, and sizes? The Bureau of Reclamation has more than 8,000 miles of canals. How would you to tailor and adapt your solution for scaling?


Explain who owns the intellectual property of your proposed solution. If you are building on existing or off-the-shelf product or technology, detail the permissions you have to use that product or technology. If you are part of a team, indicate which team members own the intellectual property.

COST (150 words)

As a general guideline, the cost of your solution should be less than $60,000 (the cost of purchasing and installing up to 1000 feet of fencing at $60/foot). However, in some circumstances, a higher cost may be appropriate if justified by increased effectiveness. Describe the cost to purchase and install your proposed solution. What is the projected cost per unit? Describe how you arrived at that cost, including any assumptions around canal size, and any additional cost considerations.


Please upload a PDF that contains a drawing, illustration, schematic, or other visual representation of your solution. You must upload a single PDF file that does not exceed 10MB. The PDF should not contain additional text explanations of your solution and should not be used as a way to circumvent word counts on this submission. If it does, your submission will be disqualified.


If your solution does not meet some of the requirements in the Technical Guidelines, please describe why you’ve made the choices you did in proposing your solution. This is also your opportunity to describe any outstanding issues that you could not explain in any other sections. What makes your solution unique?


If your team is named a Finalist, you will have six months to build your prototype. Use this section to describe your plan for successfully building a prototype in that timeframe.


In chronological order, describe the milestones and timeline needed to build your prototype in six months. If you have an existing product or technology that you are augmenting, describe the initial state as well as the milestones.


Please offer a general overview for how you would use the award if you are named as a Finalist. This Budget Narrative should complement your project plan.


You are required to submit a video that captures your solution and describes why it should be funded. The video is an opportunity to showcase your passion and to pitch your story in a succinct format. We want you to share your vision with the reviewers in a way that is different from the written proposal format. This DOES NOT need to be a professionally produced video; video shot on a smartphone is acceptable. Additionally, please take care to protect any intellectual property associated with your solution.

In order to complete this part of your submission, your team will upload a short digital film using YouTube.

Set the Privacy Settings on your video to Public or Unlisted – do not set them to Private.

Your video may be extracted from your submission and made available to the public. Appeal to a broad audience. Video submissions should follow these guidelines or else it will render the submission ineligible:

  • A length of no more than 90 seconds.
  • Your pitch must be in English, or if in another language, subtitled in English.
  • Your video must be captioned. See instructions here on how to caption YouTube videos.
  • Your video should not contain any images of identifiable children (under age 18) without express parental consent.

Here are general suggestions for delivering a high-quality video pitch:

  • Introduce yourself and your organization(s) and/or team.
  • Describe the problem that you are committed to solving.
  • Explain your solution.
  • Explain what is unique about your solution.
  • Describe how you would plan to measure success and achieve broad but meaningful impact.


If you are named as a Finalist and awarded $50,000, please note the following:

  • You or your team will build a functioning, lab-scale prototype according to your submission within a six-month period.
  • You will be asked to provide proof of identity.
  • You will be asked to sign an Agreement for Finalists as well as other agreements related to the use of the demonstration event facilities.
  • Canal depth, canal width, velocity range and other parameters will be provided prior to the start of the prototyping period.
  • Up to three team members for each Finalist should plan to travel to Reclamation’s Hydraulics Lab in Lakewood, Colorado, to meet with the Prize Competition Selection Panel and demonstrate the merits and use of the prototype. This meeting is currently scheduled for the week of November 15, 2021.
  • Each team must arrange shipping or hand-carry their prototype to and from the demonstration test. Prototypes should be packaged in such a way that proprietary design details are obscured because competing teams may be able to see your solution during the testing.
  • Initial check-in and inspection of the prototypes will take place before testing begins.
  • Testing will last for up to five days and will allow for limited time mid-stream to resolve any technical issues as necessary.
  • The Selection Committee will be present during the demonstration.

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

Submissions have closed.

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