WRC recognized for ‘outstanding’ work by USGS

The University of Minnesota’s Water Resources Center (WRC) was recognized by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) as operating at an outstanding level. Specifically, the WRC was lauded for its diversity of chosen water projects, collaborations with other institutions and agencies, student support through grants, real-world impact on local water management. The WRC is one of just 12 out of 54 national water centers to be given this recognition as part of a five year review by the USGS. 

“This review recognizes the high level of commitment and innovation that WRC staff and their partners have put forth in the work that they do, and we are excited to continue this trajectory,” says Jeff Peterson, director of the WRC. 

Peterson says the WRC has also been able to pursue ambitious projects and ideas due to support and resources from the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) and University of Minnesota Extension.

“Being housed in both CFANS and Extension is an asset because we are connected with two complementary networks, both of which have deep and broad expertise in water,” says Peterson.

“Minnesota’s water resources are essential to our state,” says Michael Schmitt, associate dean in Extension and CFANS. “The Water Resources Center’s place at the intersection of two colleges gives the center the ability to translate research and education into action seamlessly and responsively. The resulting collaborations between the center’s faculty, staff and students benefit both colleges as well as our state’s water resources.”

In recent years, the WRC has developed major new initiatives in soil health, urban stormwater, and watershed informatics, while seeing a steady increase in attendance at the annual Minnesota Water Resources Conference. Future efforts include expanding work in groundwater, decentralized wastewater, and the links between water resources and invasive species. 

“We are very proud of our history and accomplishments as a center. As we move forward into the new decade, we hope to continue this legacy and build on our success to ensure clean water in Minnesota and beyond,” says Peterson.

The WRC advances the science of clean water through innovation, workforce development and knowledge exchange as part of the National Institutes for Water Resources and is an interdisciplinary unit of the University of Minnesota’s College of Food Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and University of Minnesota Extension. The review period covered 2011-15, which included a leadership transition in the WRC. Deb Swackhamer and Faye Sleeper were co-Directors until Deb Swackhamer’s retirement in 2014. Faye Sleeper then served as Interim Director until Jeff Peterson was named Director in 2015.