An innovative water station that was a hit among Montreal concert-goers this past summer took top prize at the 2019 AquaHacking Challenge.

The Green Stop team—Rachel Labbé-Bellas, Bode Agagu, Brendan Carberry, and Oliver Yshii-Landry—took home $20,000 for its outdoor festival bottle filling station.

“It’s really satisfying to win. That’s five months of really hard work paid for,” Labbé-Bellas said. “I was really proud. And I was just happy to have any type of financial support at the beginning. It’s so hard for startups to get any type of support.”

Green Stop created a solution for large outdoor events to reduce dependence on single-use water bottles. Purpose-built fountains designed to quickly fill bottles that require only a connection to the municipal water system.

The team has designed the water stations to allow for minimal lineups to make it the preferable option for concert-goers looking to keep hydrated and tested its prototype at the 2019 Osheaga Music Festival in Montreal.

Winning the $20,000 grand prize means the Green Stop has financial stability to continue building on its 2019 successes, Labbé-Bellas said.

“I have more wiggle room to reinvest into building more units,” Labbé-Bellas said, eyeing national expansion.

Clean Nature and CLIN were runners-up in the 2019 edition of the AquaHacking water solutions competition.

Second place Clean Nature has created a plan to reduce salt pollution using computer modelling to control salt application by municipal road plows and salt spreaders. The third place winner, CLIN, is looking to reduce microplastics in the water supply by going after them in the dryer. Thirty-five percent of the microplastics released into the world come from clothes, making them the largest single source of microplastic pollution.

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AquaHacking Founder Nan-b de Gaspé Beaubien said the presentations of all the finalists have given her great hope for a future with clean water. The variety of ideas to solve a number of pressing water issues shows the energy and possibility in a new generation of innovators.

“I think the fact that they can use all kinds of solutions, the innovative approach that they have is very encouraging. It gives me great hope,” de Gaspé Beaubien said. “What an exciting time. 500,000 people are marching today and here we are, offering solutions. You can’t say to everybody ‘get rid of plastic bottles’ if you don’t have solutions.”

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