Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize awarded to hydrogeologist

Left to Right: Peter Joo Hee Ng, Chief Executive, PUB, and Professor John Anthony Cherry, Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize 2016 laureate

A selection committee for Singapore International Water Week, a biennial event that gathers leaders and innovators from the global water industry, has awarded the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize 2016 to hydrogeologist, Professor John Anthony Cherry, for his lifelong contributions to the advancement of groundwater science and technology.

“Professor Cherry’s revolutionary research has provided a scientific framework for groundwater regulators and practitioners to formulate policies and best practices,” Bernard Tan, Managing Director, Singapore International Water Week, told The Source. “He has been a major influence on the evolution of groundwater management in today’s globally recognised processes.”

The research findings and policy impact by Cherry have contributed to more effective risk management in groundwater pollution control measures, as well as revisions and formulation of new groundwater remediation guidelines and approaches in several countries, including the United States. The effects of his contributions have also established new models for public-private partnerships for groundwater research.

Adding to his list of achievements, the monitoring technologies and clean-up processes developed by Cherry have been implemented in areas that face groundwater contamination, including those in the United States, China, and Brazil. One of the most important insights unearthed by Cherry subsequently formed the theoretical basis for the set of benchmark criteria used in the disposal of hazardous industrial and nuclear waste, which has been incorporated into regulatory frameworks.

“It is an incredible honour to receive the award, and to be accepting the recognition in conjunction with World Water Day speaks volumes of its significance,” said Cherry. “I am confident that global accolades such as the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize will heighten awareness of global water challenges and encourage the development of innovative water solutions and technologies for more effective water management and protection of our water resources.”

Cherry is also an advocate for the need to monitor and research the effects of shale gas exploitation and fracking on groundwater resources. In recent years, he has focused his research on fractured rock, the least understood of all groundwater systems but one that is particularly susceptible to contamination. His knowledge in fractured rock hydrology and rock drilling has contributed towards the supply of safe drinking water to people living in mountainous bedrock regions with limited vehicle access.