2018 – 2023


San Francisco, CA

Imagine H2O

Urban Water Challenge

Imagine H2O’s Urban Water Challenge (UWC) is a global competition, supported by 11th Hour Racing and Oceankind, to encourage the development of innovative ways to advance how we source, distribute, use, and reuse water to build resilient communities. UWC embodies one of 11th Hour Racing’s key objectives: to restore ocean health by demonstrating sustainable practices and technologies that improve water quality, prevent pollution, and manage our water resources more responsibly.

The Challenge spotlights urban water resilience and aligns with UN Sustainable Development Goals, Clean Water and Sanitation (SDG 6), Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG 11), and Life Below Water (SDG 14).


  • Reviewed 623 solutions
  • Funded 22 deployments
  • Awarded $1.1M in pilot funding
  • Leveraged $9M in direct capital
  • Field Factors, winner of the 2020 Urban Water Challenge, is deploying its rainwater management solution to promote climate resilience and green infrastructure in the Netherlands.
  • Fluid Robotics, winner of the Audience Choice Award, is deploying their AI-based wastewater surveillance robots to help the city of Pune, India divert and treat raw sewage from the Mula-mutha river.
  • Cloud to Street is launching the first commercially scalable parametric flood insurance pilot to help the city of New Orleans better understand their flood risk and build urban coastal resilience
  • Emrgy is installing its hydropower turbines in Phoenix, AZ to reduce operating costs, grid electricity consumption, and carbon footprint
  • Epic CleanTec is installing its system in a high-rise building in the bay area to decrease building water demand by 90% and ease the load on municipal utilities.
  • Sanivation is carrying out a feasibility study to deploy a circular economy treatment plant for the residents of Malindi, Kenya.
  • SENTRY is helping São Paulo, Brazil’s wastewater treatment plants optimize processes and ensure only treated water flows back into the ecosystem.
  • Varuna is deploying its solution to increase visibility and efficiency for the water utility and provides assurance to communities about the safety of their water in Trenton, NJ, and/or Monroe, LA.
  • Indra Water, winner of the 2019 UWC, deployed its modular, decentralized wastewater treatment systems in colleges and schools in Mumbai, India.
  • Zilper Trenchless, winner of the 2019 UWC, installed and replaced water pipes using its trenchless technology in the greater Bogota, Colombia region.
  • StormSensor partnered with the Jersey City Municipal Utility Authority and the Jersey City Office of Innovation to deploy a network of 36 individual IoT-connected sensors to monitor stormwater and combined sewer flow.
  • Upepo partnered with Safaricom and local utilities to install 5,000 meters of water management measuring devices with Narrow-Band IoT.
  • SmarterHomes partnered with Namibia Water Corporation Ltd. to deploy 3,000 battery-powered smart water meters with integrated leakage prevention systems to reduce household consumption by 35%.
  • Drinkwell, winner of the 2018 UWC, expanded its low electricity, pay-as-you-go water purification stations that remove arsenic from water — a persistent problem throughout Bangladesh.
  • Spout, winner of the 2018 UWC, deployed real-time water testing devices to empower households and provide cost-effective monitoring for utility companies.
  • SmartTerra, winner of the 2018 UWC, equipped second-tier Indian cities, over 5,000 of which provide water intermittently, with the tools for data-driven decision making to improve delivery and access of water.

About Imagine H2O

Imagine H2O is a global nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering people to develop and deploy innovation to solve water challenges. Since 2009, we have supported over 150 entrepreneurs and changemakers who are pioneering novel technologies and business models in the water sector. Through our programming and ecosystem, we help entrepreneurs access the resources required to validate, finance, and scale their solutions. Our alumni have collectively raised $590M+ in early-stage capital and have an 80% survival rate. Over the last three years, we have provided more than $1M in award funding to support 43 water innovation deployment projects in 9 countries, enabling high-impact markets to accelerate solutions in communities and utilities that need them the most.

Learn more at

Aaron Tartakovsky, CEO & Co-founder of Epic Cleantec, explains its decentralized wastewater treatment solution that treats both blackwater and greywater in buildings or at the district scale.

Daniel Zillante, CEO & Co-founder of Zilper Trenchless, discusses the economic advantages of Trenchless Technology when laying water pipes underground.

Amrit Om Nayak, CEO & Co-founder of Indra Water, discusses testing its ‘wastewater treatment system in a box,’ with five universities in Mumbai.

StormSensor: Building the Google Traffic Maps for Sewers

StormSensor Inc. protects communities from Urban Flooding and Climate Change using Data, not Demographics. Discover how its cloud connected network of sensors and software provides benefits to homes and small businessesStormSensor is part of our Urban Water Challenge 2019 cohort. Thank you to our Founding Partners 11th Hour Racing & Bluewater

Posted by Imagine H2O on Thursday, April 2, 2020

Erin Rothman, CEO & Co-founder of StormSensor explains the ‘google traffic map’ for sewers and stormwater, currently piloting in flood-prone New Jersey. 

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