Waterloo professor emeritus named 2020 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate

Monday, March 23, 2020

CherryJohn Cherry, a distinguished professor emeritus from the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science has been named 2020 winner of the prestigious Stockholm Water Prize. The announcement was made March 23, by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI). Cherry is the first hydrogeologist and the second Canadian to win the international award, which has gone to academics and organizations worldwide, including the International Water Management Institute in Sri Lanka and Great Britain’s Water Aid.

Awarded annually since 1991, the Stockholm Water Prize honours individuals and organizations whose work helps to conserve and protect water resources. Cherry is scheduled to receive the award from Princess Victoria of Sweden in late August and will address the opening session of this year’s World Water Week conference organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI).

We are absolutely delighted that Professor John Cherry has been awarded the prestigious Stockholm Water Prize. His breakthrough research helped define what we know as contaminant hydrogeology, his teaching has influenced generations of hydrogeologists around the world, and his legacy was fundamental to the establishment of Waterloo’s Water Institute” said Water Institute Executive Director Roy Brouwer.

Cherry plans to use the award to highlight what he calls “the global groundwater crisis”. “Worldwide, groundwater quality is imperiled by pollutants, especially contaminants from agriculture, road salting, septic systems and industrial chemicals”, said Cherry.

A 2016 United Nations report projected that rising global temperatures, expanding urbanization and continued population growth will result in a 40 per cent global water deficit by 2030. Nearly all of Earth’s liquid freshwater is groundwater, including reserves that provide drinking water for about one in three Canadians. Almost half of the world population depends on groundwater for domestic use and many rely on it for irrigation.

Groundwater is an issue that gets ignored in Canada and in many other countries” said Cherry. “It’s going on underground, so you can’t see it, but it’s the backbone of the freshwater cycle”.

This summer, Cherry will launch the Groundwater Project, a series of e-books and other educational resources to be made available free online in several languages for users from water experts to university students to schoolchildren. Cherry has solicited chapters from hundreds of water experts worldwide. The project will be based at the University of Guelph, where Cherry is a principal investigator with the G360 Institute for Groundwater Research.

Called a “pioneer of contaminant hydrogeology,” he joined the University of Manitoba in 1967 as Canada’s first groundwater professor. Moving to the University of Waterloo in 1971, he led a groundwater research group for decades. His research criteria for choosing safe disposal sites for radioactive wastes have been adopted in worldwide regulations. The nomination for the Stockholm Water Prize was submitted by the University of Waterloo’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the Water Institute.

Cherry has been named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a Foreign Fellow of the America Academy of Engineering. In 2016, he also received the Singapore Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize for his outstanding contributions to global water research. In 1979, Cherry co-authored the definitive textbook Groundwater.

Cherry traces his longtime interest in water resources to the work of his parents, Lawrence Cherry and Evelyn Spice Cherry, who experienced drought while growing up in Canada’s west. Both worked for the National Film Board and later ran a Saskatchewan documentary film company specializing in social and environmental issues. 

Cherry 2


  1. 2023 (69)
    1. November (7)
    2. October (6)
    3. September (7)
    4. August (7)
    5. July (4)
    6. June (6)
    7. May (6)
    8. April (9)
    9. March (5)
    10. February (5)
    11. January (7)
  2. 2022 (102)
    1. December (7)
    2. November (9)
    3. October (13)
    4. September (6)
    5. August (4)
    6. July (7)
    7. June (8)
    8. May (8)
    9. April (10)
    10. March (9)
    11. February (8)
    12. January (13)
  3. 2021 (124)
    1. December (8)
    2. November (15)
    3. October (10)
    4. September (12)
    5. August (10)
    6. July (9)
    7. June (12)
    8. May (5)
    9. April (10)
    10. March (13)
    11. February (9)
    12. January (11)
  4. 2020 (124)
  5. 2019 (108)
  6. 2018 (98)
  7. 2017 (79)
  8. 2016 (37)
  9. 2015 (30)
  10. 2014 (21)
  11. 2013 (23)
  12. 2012 (33)