Energy, Environment and Resources Center
EERC ~ Water Resources Research CenterThe Water Resources Research Center (WRRC), headed by Timothy Gangaware, is a federally designated state research institute supported in part by the U.S. Geological Survey. The Center serves as a primary link among water-resource experts in academia, government, and the private sector, and the diversity of its staff in terms of background and expertise enhances flexibility and positions the Center to establish productive partnerships.
WRRC facilitates research at universities and colleges throughout the region; promotes education and training relevant to water-resources issues; and serves as an information clearinghouse for federal, state, and local government agencies that oversee water-related problems.
The Center, which is guided by a statewide advisory committee, cooperates with government agencies, private-sector nonprofit organizations, and the public to identify key water issues facing Tennessee and the region.
Examples of center-sponsored projects include:
WRRC's efforts also include training of undergraduate and graduate students in various aspects of water-resource management. During the past five years, more than 60 students from five Tennessee colleges and universities have worked on WRRC-sponsored research. The Center presently employs seven half-time graduate research assistants working toward advanced degrees in fields ranging from urban planning to restoration ecology.
One of WRRC's greatest strengths is its ability to establish and nurture partnerships with a wide range of water-related agencies, individuals, and organizations, including the U.S. Geological Survey; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; the Tennessee Valley Authority; the Natural Resource Conservation Service; the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation; the Tennessee Department of Transportation; Knoxville's Department of Engineering; Knoxville's Greenways Coordinator; Ijams Nature Center; the Knoxville Utility Board; the University of Memphis; Tennessee Technological University; Mississippi State University; and the University of Tennessee's School of Planning and departments of ecology and evolutionary biology, engineering, and geography.
Under the Urban Watershed Restoration Project, staff of the WRRC are preventing erosion and nonpoint source pollution, rebuilding degraded habitat, and introducing alternatives to traditional engineering methods. WRRC Associate Director Timothy Gangaware and staff have worked with fellow members of Knoxvilles Water Quality Forum to build riparian corridors along area waterways, to use natural materials to repair blown-out land, and to educate area professionals and residents about the benefits of alternative methods and of promoting and protecting watershed health.
Work is funded by the Tennessee Department of Agricultures Non-Point Source Program. Specific projects have included creating buffer zones of native trees and plants in a section of Worlds Fair Park in downtown Knoxville and behind an apartment complex in south Knoxville, as well as restoring stream banks and revitalizing habitat along Knoxvilles First, Second, Third, Love, Beaver and Goose creeks.
Hands-on workshops organized by WRRC and other forum members train Knoxville-area parks and recreation personnel, greenways coordinators, and engineers to use natural techniques. Says Gangaware, These projects are helping diverse organizations achieve diverse goals by working together, and were improving the environment and peoples lives at the same time.
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