USGS celebrates 50th anniversary of Water Resources Research Act

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July 17, 2014 -- The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) joins its many partners in other federal agencies, at universities, and in state and local governments in recognizing the importance of the Water Resources Research Act (WRRA) of 1964. Signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 17, 1964, the WRRA established a Water Resources Research Institute in each state and Puerto Rico.

The Water Resources Research Institute Program, originally authorized by WRRA 50 years ago, is a federal-state partnership that provides for competitive grants to be awarded for research projects focusing on the state and region. Each of the 54 institutes is charged with overseeing competent research that addresses water problems or expands the understanding of water and water-related phenomena. They are also responsible for aiding the entry of new research scientists into water resources fields, helping to train future water scientists and engineers, and transferring the results of sponsored research to water managers and the public.

The WRRA's geographically distributed approach to water research and education "will enlist the intellectual power of universities and research institutes in a nationwide effort to conserve and utilize our water resources for the common benefit," said President Johnson at the time in a prepared statement. "The new centers will be concerned with municipal and regional, as well as with national water problems. Their ready accessibility to state and local officials will permit each problem to be attacked on an individual basis, the only way in which the complex characteristics of each water deficiency can be resolved."

Subsequent amendments to the 1964 act broadened the list of National Institutes for Water Resources (NIWR) so that, by 1983, there were 54 institutes, one in each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam.

"The water research partnerships fostered by the Water Resources Research Act are unparalleled," said Sharon Megdal, director of the University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center and president-elect of NIWR. "The network of Water Resources Research Institutes connects within states, across regions and with USGS and other federal agencies to tackle the most pressing water resource challenges of our nation." 

Fifty years later, the Water Resources Research Institutes, in partnership with the USGS, continue to fulfill their roles assigned by Congress in 1964. They have produced path-breaking research, developed innovative information and technology transfer programs, and provided training to more than 25,000 students in their 50-year history.

See also:

"USGS celebrates 125th anniversary of its first streamgage in U.S."

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

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