- Associated Press - Thursday, April 2, 2015

PHOENIX (AP) - A team of water experts, videographers and social media marketers has won a $100,000 prize in a competition to promote Arizona water conservation.

Beyond the Mirage was announced Wednesday as the winner of The New Arizona Prize: Water Consciousness Challenge.

The group plans to launch a website in January that will host hundreds of video clips on water-related issues for viewers to create and share documentaries to spread awareness about water consciousness.

The team’s strategy is designed to maximize all channels of distribution. By combining user-generated content with true expertise on the past, present and future of Arizona’s water resources, Beyond the Mirage hopes to make education on this complex issue accessible to Arizonans of all ages.

Clips will be available to educators through their online platform, PBS Learning Media, and the team hopes that journalists will be able to use the content and audio as they cover water issues in Arizona.

“It makes information accessible in every sense of the word,” said Steve Seleznow, president and CEO of the Arizona Community Foundation. “It makes it available, easy to share and deliver and it does it with this great, engaging tool that anyone would be excited to use.”

The competition’s initiative was created to bring together innovative people from all professional backgrounds to flesh out solutions to water problems gripping Arizona.

“When you combine Arizona’s growing population in a desert climate with a persistent drought, it’s obvious that water resources need to be managed well,” Seleznow said. “But Arizonans have this illusion of abundance even as water restrictions are placed on our neighbors in Nevada and California. We chose water consciousness because as Arizonans, we need to acknowledge there’s a problem before we start looking for solutions.”

A panel of judges selected the winning team after reviewing five finalists’ proposals at the Phoenix Museum of Art.

The Water Consciousness Challenge is the first in The New Arizona Prize competition, but a second competition is already in its early stages. The second challenge will seek out ideas from businesses and entrepreneurs for goods and services that provide water conservation solutions.

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