Virridy Leads Groundbreaking $650K NSF Grant Project for Sustainable Water Quality Solutions in Colorado

Boulder, CO – Virridy, in partnership with the University of Colorado Boulder, Colorado State University, Friends of the Yampa and the Coalition for the Poudre River Watershed, announces the award of $650,000 by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) Convergence Accelerator. This contract supports a pioneering project aimed at transforming water quality management through green infrastructure, with a focus on enhancing the health of Colorado’s watersheds by tapping into global voluntary carbon markets. 

A key innovation of the project is the development of a carbon credit methodology, enabling the use of private climate finance to fund green infrastructure. This approach is paired with advanced data science methods to measure and attribute water quality improvements directly to these environmentally friendly land management practices. Addressing technological constraints, Virridy aims to develop tools that combine continuous instream water quality measurements with land management data, providing credible evidence of water quality enhancements.

The NSF-funded project confronts a pressing environmental challenge: half of America’s rivers are impaired, disproportionately affecting marginalized communities. With existing regulatory frameworks like the Clean Water Act primarily addressing point-source discharges, there remains a critical gap in managing nonpoint source pollution. Virridy’s initiative proposes a significant shift from addressing these water quality problems with traditional “gray” infrastructure to green alternatives, such as wetland restoration and regenerative agriculture, to address this gap effectively and sustainably.

“While we recognize and respect the immense contributions of our regulatory system in safeguarding public and environmental health over the past 60 years, we also see an opportunity for evolution. It’s time to integrate more sustainable practices that not only maintain our high standards but also optimize public funds and address climate change concerns, given the current carbon intensity of our public energy grids and capital intensive gray infrastructure.” said Dr. Evan Thomas, CEO at Virridy.

This pivotal project brings together a coalition of important partners, including the City of Steamboat Springs, Friends of the Yampa, the City of Fort Collins, and the Coalition for the Poudre River Watershed, focusing their efforts on the vital waterways of the Yampa and Cache La Poudre Rivers. These partners will be instrumental in providing valuable study input, aggregating regional stakeholder opinions, and co-designing the innovative green infrastructure solution models that stand to redefine the health and sustainability of these crucial Colorado river systems. The collaborative effort underscores the team’s shared commitment to environmental stewardship and community engagement in watershed management.

“Through this convergence research, we’re not only envisioning but actively co-creating improved decision-making processes and green infrastructure deployment with communities and regulators,” said Dr. Thomas. “This grant allows us to integrate social science, technology, and market innovations to incentivize nature-based solutions for water quality challenges.”

This work will rely on sensor networks that measure real-time water quality in both the Cache la Poudre and Yampa rivers. In the Cache La Poudre, Dr. Matthew Ross, Assistant Professor of watershed science at CSU, has been working with the City of Fort Collins to establish a robust water quality monitoring network over the past five years. Dr. Ross noted that “funds from this grant will allow us to amplify the impact of our monitoring network that we built to monitor the health of the Poudre. We will be able to explore novel machine learning techniques to predict water quality with high accuracy over large river networks, and better understand areas on the landscape that we can invest in to improve water quality. This work requires a data platform that will allow us to advance our understanding of water quality in our two target rivers, but also more generally highlights the potential of these kinds of networks in other water supply river networks.”

This Phase 1 project is the foundation for broader implementation. If recognized as a top contender among 15 competing Phase 1 teams, Virridy has the potential to secure a Phase 2 award of up to $5 million. Success in Phase 1 will deliver compelling social science evidence, prototype solutions co-designed with stakeholders, and enhanced water quality monitoring, alongside the carbon credit methodology.

“If our team is successful at progressing into Phase 2, we will see these solutions further brought to life, generating revenue through carbon credits, achieving measurable improvements in water quality, and securing stakeholder endorsements. Our ultimate goal is to create a scalable model for the United States, reinforcing our commitment to sustainable water resource management,” added Dr. Thomas.

For more information about the project or to learn more about Virridy’s innovative environmental solutions, please visit or contact Alex Johnson, [email protected].

Quotes from Partners:

Dr. Krister Par Andersson, Professor of Sustainable Development at University of Notre Dame and a CU-Boulder research affiliate: “The current governance institutions have long favored gray infrastructure as the go-to solution for water pollution. Our social science research is designed to challenge and evolve these patterns by exploring the behavioral barriers and potential incentives for adopting green infrastructure. Through comprehensive survey experiments and focus group discussions across the Western United States, we’re not just aiming to influence local pilot areas, but to create robust new evidence for regional scaling of green infrastructure solutions.”

Jill Oropeza, Sr. Director of Integrated Sciences & Planning at the City of Fort Collins: “This collaboration represents an exciting opportunity to rethink our current clean water regulatory strategies. It brings us closer to a future where our city can leverage innovative, nature-based solutions, balancing regulatory compliance with environmental sustainability and fiscal responsibility.”

Julie Baxter, Water Resources Manager, City of Steamboat Springs: “It’s an honor for our city to be part of this groundbreaking NSF-funded project, marking a step in our ongoing efforts to uphold and enhance environmental health. It helps us move towards using smart, natural methods that protect water quality and the environment, meet regulations, and save money.”

Lindsey Marlow, Executive Director, Friends of the Yampa: “We are excited to collaborate on this NSF-funded project, bringing environmental stewardship to the forefront. We commit to working closely with local stakeholders, particularly those from disadvantaged communities, to ensure this concept fits local needs. By bringing in diverse perspectives, we aim to set a strong foundation, ensuring that our waterways can be enjoyed by all.”

Hally Strevey, Executive Director, Coalition for the Poudre River: “At CPRW, we’re thrilled to be part of this transformative initiative. We’re dedicated to co-creating solutions that not only protect the Cache La Poudre but also reflect the voices and needs of all community members, setting the stage for meaningful and lasting change.”

About Virridy

Virridy Inc. develops and deploys technologies to manage water, energy, and agricultural resources in remote, off-grid environments including Africa and North America. The company’s low-cost satellite-connected sensors are compatible with a wide range of fixed infrastructure and support carbon credits, energy incentives, water permitting, and other environmental market commodities. 


Alex Johnson
Chief Strategy Officer, Virridy
[email protected]