Tennessee School Steps Up for Watershed Excellence
The University of Tennessee's Institute for a Secure and Sustainable
Environment and the Cumberland River Compact were recognized Feb. 25 as
the Center of Excellence for Watershed Management in Tennessee. This is
only the second Center of Excellence to be designated in the Southeast.
Representatives from the institute and the compact signed a
memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
To become a recognized Center of Excellence, an 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. The Tennessee parties approached
EPA in mid-2007 to become a Center of Excellence. This will be the
first Center of Excellence that involves a partnership between a
university and a non-governmental 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.
"At EPA, we believe watersheds represent the most logical basis for
managing resources since all the water, both surface and groundwater,
within them eventually drains to the same place," said EPA Regional
Administrator Jimmy Palmer. "Today's agreement affirms our shared
commitment to determine what actions are needed to protect or restore
the impacted waterways throughout Tennessee."
"At this increasingly challenging time for water resources, we at
the Compact are very excited about the additional coordinated resources
such a center will bring to our watersheds," said Cumberland River
Compact Senior Fellow Margo Farnsworth. "We're excited about the way
the center will be able to connect graduate students and additional
resources directly to watersheds where on the ground work is being
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.