This week was held the national final of the Stockholm Junior Water Prize, considered the Junior Nobel of Water. A competition aimed at students between 16 and 21 years old where school research projects aimed at improving the quality of life of people and the planet, by improving water quality, water resources management, and the protection or treatment of water, whether drinking or wastewater. Aquae Foundation is the entity responsible for organizing this event in Spain for the past eight years.

The project 'Sound, an ally against microplastics' has won first place and will represent Spain in the international final to be held in August in Stockholm. The winning team was chosen by the jury, made up of renowned experts in the water sector and research. Rafael Mujeriego, professor of Environmental Engineering at the UPC and president of ASERSA, acted as president of the SJWP jury, a position he has held since 1999. He was accompanied by Amelia Pérez Zabaleta, vice-rector of Economics of the UNED and director of the Aquae Chair of Water Economics; Jaime Pérez, head of the Scientific Culture Area of the CSIC; Joana Tobella, technical and program director of CETAQUA; and Eire Ruizcoordinator of Water School Environmental Education. As highlighted by the members of the jury during the ceremony, "every year more and more teams enter this competition, a fact that endorses the growing environmental awareness in the protection of natural resources, and specifically water, to move towards a more sustainable society".

The project presented by the winning team, from the Luis Amigó school in Navarra, composed by Lucia Royo and Ainara San Miguel, has focused its research on the search for microplastics in fresh water through sound. With a loudspeaker, a tuner and some laboratory instruments, a simple and useful procedure has been created to identify microplastics in water; but not before performing several controls to differentiate the behavior with or without the presence of plastic, for example by observing how it affects the presence of other agents such as mud, stones or the biodiversity of the river itself.

Thus, in order to obtain this solution, different samples have been collected and analyzed from various points of the river in the Pamplona area. According to the jury of the contest "it is a very innovative project, due to the use of sound as an element for the detection of microplastics, and it also addresses a growing environmental problem in the water that must be addressed in the short term".

In addition, two other projects have participated in this final held in Madrid. The research of the students Roque López and Irene Díaz of 4th ESO, belonging to the Aulas Tecnópole of Ourense, is focused on the manufacture of a bioreactor to make spirulina, considered one of the most nutritious foods. The ultimate goal of manufacturing this food is to combat the food shortage that causes hunger in certain parts of the world. To this end, the team conducted research to identify the most nutritious foods, those capable of feeding the greatest number of people with the least amount of food. They selected spirulina, one of the so-called superfoods, which is found en masse in alkaline lakes in Central Africa, Central America and the Hawaiian archipelago.

The project consists of the development of a low-cost bioreactor that will make it possible to grow a culture of the algae in question and its subsequent extraction, so that it can be used as a food supplement to different foods while maintaining all its nutritional properties and increasing the nutritional properties of the food to which it is added.

The Barcelona team, formed by Adriana Teixidó, a student at the Vilanova del Vallès Institute, has focused its study on analyzing the relationship between the concentration of plastics and coastal drift on the Catalan coast. Every year, the seas and oceans receive up to 12 million tons of plastics. For this research, an analysis of several sand samples from three different beaches of the Catalan coast has been carried out. From the analysis of the plastics contained in each container of sand, the most common types of plastics have been identified. Finally, we have worked to deduce a direct relationship between coastal drift and the concentration of plastic waste.

The Aquae Foundation has emphasized that 'the younger generations play a decisive role in the fight against the climate crisis'. Hence, promoting and supporting initiatives linked to sustainable development and the fulfillment of the 2030 Agenda is one of the objectives of the Aquae Foundation. The organization of this event in Spain is just one example of the actions developed and supported by the Foundation in this area'.

The winners of the national final will travel to Stockholm, where the International Final organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) will be held as part of World Water Week. During their stay in the Swedish country, they will have the unique opportunity to present and evaluate their projects in front of a wide range of experts and attendees at the international conference.

Each of the finalists from the different countries represented is interviewed by a jury of international experts to decide on the winning project, which is announced during the final awards ceremony.