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Kentucky Water Resources Research Institute designated as Center of Excellence for Watershed Management

Release Date: 09/24/2010
Contact Information: James Pinkney, (404) 562-9183, pinkney.james@epa.gov

(ATLANTA – Sept. 24, 2010) Today, the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designated the Kentucky Water Resources Research Institute (KWRRI) as a Center of Excellence for Watershed Management. This is the first Center of Excellence to be designated in Kentucky and the seventh in the Southeast.

EPA Deputy Regional Administrator Stanley A. Meiburg, University of Kentucky, Executive Vice President for Research, Jim Tracy, WRRI Director, Lindell Ormsbee and Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection Commissioner, R. Bruce Scott signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to help communities identify watershed based problems and develop and implement locally sustainable solutions.

To become a recognized Center of Excellence, the institution must demonstrate technical expertise in identifying and addressing watershed needs; involvement of students, staff and faculty in watershed research; capability to involve the full suite of disciplines needed for all aspects of watershed management; financial ability to become self-sustaining; ability to deliver and account for results; willingness to partner with other institutions; and support from the highest levels of the organization.

Some of the 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.

For decades, EPA and KEPPC have protected Kentucky’s lakes, rivers and wetlands by regulating specific points of pollution; the most common of these being sewage treatment plants and factories. Although this approach led to the successful cleanup of many waterways, others still remain polluted from sources not as easily regulated. These more subtle sources include farms, streets, parking lots, lawns, rooftops or any other surfaces that come in contact with rainwater. Today, EPA and KEPPC take a broader approach to water protection, looking at both the individual waterway and the watershed in which it is located.

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


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