State-of-the-art water research facility planned in Baton Rouge

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One of the things that continually amazes and impresses me about the water industry is the creativity and innovation it fosters. Preserving, protecting, and purifying this most basic of life’s building blocks inspires some very smart people to do some very smart things.

In recent years, we've seen a number of new research facilities popping up across the United States - facilities intended to provide the environment and tools needed to further advance our understanding of water.

The Water Campus will comprise 30 acres of water research, education, and meeting facilities in downtown Baton Rouge, La.
The Water Campus will comprise 30 acres of water research, education, and meeting facilities in downtown Baton Rouge, La.

In Milwaukee, for example, The Water Council's Global Water Center celebrated its grand opening in September. It provides water-related research facilities for universities and existing water-related companies, as well as accelerator space for new, emerging water-related companies - all with the purpose of addressing key local and global water-quality, technology and policy issues.

And just this past December, it was announced that Baton Rouge, Louisiana, will join the ranks of world class water research efforts. A 30-acre water campus is being planned here to house scientific, engineering, construction and governmental agencies focused on developing solutions for Gulf Coast restoration and water resource management.

It will be home to Water Institute for the Gulf, an independent research organization providing scientific assistance to the state's Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority as it works to implement a $50-billion Coastal Protection and Restoration Plan.

With an investment of over $50 million, the initial phase will consist of the construction of three facilities: offices for the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority; a Coastal Education & Research Facility that will include public education exhibits on coastal processes, resources and challenges, as well as research and meeting facilities; and a 50,000 square foot River Modeling Center, where a small scale physical model of the lower Mississippi River operated by LSU will facilitate the study of all facets of ground and water behavior. The modeling center is similar to the one at Deltares, a water research institute in the Netherlands. It's expected to bring together researchers and scientists from around the world to study similar water-related issues from their regions. It will be one of the largest, most dynamic models in the world.

A 50,000 square foot River Modeling Center will be one of the largest, most dynamic models in the world.
A 50,000 square foot River Modeling Center will be one of the largest, most dynamic models in the world.

At the unveiling of the plans for the facility, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said, "This new campus is great news for our state and coastal communities across the globe as they begin to face coastal sustainability pressures. This campus will help us pool expertise and resources from the public and private sectors to develop innovative coastal solutions that will build upon the coastal investment foundation we've already set in place."

Further, The Water Campus is expected to deliver a healthy boost to the state's economy. Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret said the facility will "make a major contribution toward enabling the water management sector to result in roughly 20,000 to 45,000 new jobs in Louisiana from now through 2030." The water management sector has been identified as one of nine key industries that are crucial for the optimum growth and development of the state.

Construction is scheduled to begin on portions of The Water Campus in the first quarter of 2014.

Angela Godwin Chief Editor, WaterWorld

Angela Godwin   Angela Godwin
Chief Editor, WaterWorld

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