AUBURN – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today designated Auburn University as a Center of Excellence for Watershed Management, enhancing Auburn’s efforts to address water quality and availability issues in Alabama and the region. This is only the fourth Center of Excellence to be designated in the Southeast and the first in the state of Alabama.
Auburn University President Jay Gogue and officials from the EPA and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management signed a memorandum of understanding to formalize the partnership between Auburn, the EPA and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.
“We appreciate this opportunity to partner with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management to help manage water resources as prudently as possible, with an eye toward conservation and increased availability,” said Auburn University President Jay Gogue. “Auburn has a broad array of expertise to contribute to these efforts.”
The EPA program works with colleges and universities to provide communities with hands-on, practical products and services to solve watershed problems, such as pollution control and water availability. Some of the benefits of being a recognized Center of Excellence include receipt of EPA technical assistance and EPA letters of support for grant opportunities.
Auburn’s role will be administered through its Water Resources Center under the direction of the university’s Natural Resources Management & Development Institute. Auburn also will rely on affiliated academic departments, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Alabama Agriculture Experiment Station, Alabama Water Watch, as well as non-AU affiliated groups like the Alabama Clean Water Partnership.
“A little less than a year ago, we learned about this EPA program at a meeting in Atlanta with a number of universities from around the Southeast,” said Larry Fillmer, executive director of the Natural Resources Management & Development Institute. “We felt strongly that many of our research and outreach efforts on campus and the focus of our newly formed Water Resources Center to address watershed issues were closely aligned with the EPA program.
“Finalizing the memorandum of understanding provides the framework for Auburn, ADEM and EPA to work together on these issues with a common set of goals, objectives and measurements.”