EPA Names KWRRI at UK a Center of Excellence
LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 22, 2011) – The Kentucky Water Resources Research Institute (KWRRI) at the University of Kentucky has been designated a Center of Excellence for Watershed Management by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The joint announcement was made today on the University of Kentucky campus by EPA Region IV Deputy Director for Water Programs Doug Mundrick, Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet (KEEC) Secretary Len Peters, University of Kentucky President Lee T. Todd Jr. and KWRRI Director Lindell Ormsbee
With this designation, KWRRI becomes the first Center of Excellence in Kentucky and the seventh in the Southeast. These centers help communities identify watershed-based problems and assist with the development and implementation of locally sustainable solutions.
To become recognized as a Center of Excellence, an institution must demonstrate technical expertise in identifying and addressing watershed needs; involvement of students, staff and faculty in watershed research; the capability to involve the full suite of disciplines needed for all aspects of watershed management; the financial ability to become self-sustaining; the ability to deliver and account for results; a willingness to partner with other institutions; and support from the highest levels of the organization.
“It is terrific to see one of UK’s research institutes recognized for the important work that is being done on this campus and around the Commonwealth,” Todd said. “UK and the KWRRI look forward to continuing our strong history of water-related scholarship, research and engagement, with an eye toward improving water quality across the Commonwealth.”
Benefits of being a recognized Center of Excellence include receipt of EPA technical assistance where needed (instructors, speakers, etc); promotion of the Center of Excellence to stakeholders; EPA letters of support for grant opportunities; and identification of opportunities for Center of Excellence involvement in local and regional watershed issues.
“The Institute is honored today by this designation,” Ormsbee said. “It underscores the importance of our mission, as well as the significance of many of our ongoing projects.”
KWRRI is one of 54 institutes in the United States established under The Water Research Act of 1964 “to assist in assuring the nation at all times of a supply of water sufficient in quantity and quality to meet the requirements of its expanding population [through] the conduct of research, investigations, experiments and training of scientists in the fields of water and of resources which affect water.” The institute currently manages a number of research, education and technology transfer programs, as well as providing technical support for the Kentucky River Authority and the KEEC, including the Kentucky Division of Water.
For decades, EPA and KEEC’s Division of Water have protected Kentucky’s lakes, rivers and wetlands by regulating traditional point sources of pollution, such as wastewater treatment plants and industry. Although this approach has led to the successful cleanup of many waterways, others remain polluted from sources not as easily controlled, including farms, streets, parking lots, lawns, rooftops or any other surfaces that come in contact with rainwater.
Today, these agencies take a broader approach to water protection, looking at both the individual waterway and the watershed in which it is located.
“Today’s designation will help put the tools for watershed management into the hands of local citizen groups in every part of the Commonwealth,” Peters said.
Started in 2007, the EPA Region 4 Centers of Excellence for Watershed Management Program works with colleges and universities from across the Southeast to provide hands-on, practical products and services for communities to identify watershed problems and solve them. Each EPA-designated center actively seeks out watershed-based stakeholder groups and local governments that need cost effective tools for watershed scientific studies, engineering designs and computer mapping, as well as assistance with legal issues, project management, public education and planning.
More information about priority watersheds in the Southeast is available online at http://www.epa.gov/region4/water/watersheds/index.html.
More information about the Kentucky Water Resources Research Institute is available online at www.uky.edu/WaterResources.
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