University of Delaware
Director Gerald J. Kaufman applauds as student interns mark the 50th anniversary of the Delaware Water Resources Center.

DWRC marks 50th

Delaware Water Resources Center celebrates 50th anniversary

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11:50 a.m., May 11, 2015--More than 50 faculty, staff and students celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Delaware Water Resources Center (DWRC) at the University of Delaware during its annual meeting on April 17 at the Trabant University Center. 

Founded in 1965, one year after then-President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Water Resources Research Act on July 17, 1964, the DWRC is one of the 54 National Institutes for Water Resources (NIWR) funded by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Geological Survey at land grant universities in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the three island territories of the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam. 

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The DWRC at UD is part of a land grant-based water research network that stretches from the Atlantic to the South Pacific and includes institutions such as California (Berkeley), Georgia Tech, Illinois, Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio State and the University of Guam. 

The DWRC belongs to the Mid-Atlantic NIWR region with water resources colleagues at Cornell, Penn State, Rutgers, Maryland, Virginia Tech and West Virginia. 

The DWRC is supported by appropriations from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the National Park Service, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), state and local government, and foundation sources.

Robert Varin, UD professor emeritus of civil and environmental engineering, served as the first DWRC director during the formative decades of the research center.

Tom Sims, professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, served as the second director of the DWRC skillfully and thoughtfully for a decade and a half, from 2000 to 2015. 

Sims made a real and substantial difference in the careers and lives of hundreds if not thousands of students, faculty and staff who conducted research in water science and policy at UD, according to a DWRC representative.

With the retirement of Sims, Gerald J. Kauffman, assistant professor in the School of Public Policy and Administration, was appointed as the third director of the DWRC, effective in January 2015.  

Kauffman also serves as director of the UD Water Resources Agency, a unit of the Institute for Public Administration. DWRC program coordinator Maria Pautler, a research associate in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, assists in the daily operations of the DWRC and coordinates the student water resources research program.

By its favorable geography and hydrology, the UD campus is fortuitously situated for water resources research. The Newark campus is located along the fall line between the hilly, rocky Appalachian Piedmont and flat, sandy Atlantic Coastal Plain, while the coastal Lewes campus sits along the Atlantic Ocean amidst two great estuary systems – the Delaware and Chesapeake. 

These Mid-Atlantic basins contribute drinking water to a full one-tenth of the nation’s population and the first (New York City), fourth (Baltimore/Washington, D.C.), and seventh (Philadelphia) largest metropolitan economies in the United States. 

The White Clay Creek National Wild and Scenic River flows through the UD campus in Newark and serves as an ideal experimental watershed for on-campus water resources research by students, faculty and policy scientists.

The DWRC is undergoing a strategic planning process integrated with the land grant learning (education), scholarship (research), and engagement (public service) objectives of the University’s Delaware Will Shine strategic plan. 

One of the strategic planning objectives will be to increase the amount of federal, state/local, and foundation/private support for internships and research assistantships for students and faculty to conduct water resources research in Delaware, the Delaware Valley, and throughout the country.

The DWRC director appoints an advisory panel as required by the USGS with representatives from the on-campus and off-campus community in the state who have significant expertise in water resource research, management and education. 

Panel members are from environmental, natural resource and agricultural agencies, the farming community, academia and non-profit organizations. 

The DWRC Advisory Panel serves many essential functions, including peer review and ranking of research proposals, planning of annual conferences, promoting the interaction of the DWRC with other agencies, and advising the director on state priority water resource focal areas as well as the best ways to accomplish the center’s mission.

The DWRC Advisory Panel includes:

Jayme Arthurs, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Chris Bason, Center for the Inland Bays

Luc Claessens, Department of Geography

Tom Coleman, city of Newark Water Department

Jeff Downing, Mt. Cuba Center

Asia Dowtin, UD student section of the American Water Resources Association

Mingxin Guo, Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Delaware State University

LeeAnn Haaf, Partnership for the Delaware Estuary

Stephen Hokuf, New Castle County Department of Planning

Paul Imhoff, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Shreeram Inamdar, Department of Plant and Soil Sciences

Janet Johnson, Department of Political Science and International Relations

Richie Jones, The Nature Conservancy

Thomas McKenna, Delaware Geological Survey

Matt Miller, city of Wilmington Department of Public Works

Martha Narvaez, UD Water Resources Agency

Ginger North, Delaware Nature Society

Betzaida Reyes, U.S. Geological Survey

Kash Srinivasan, Kash LLC

Bob Struble, Brandywine Valley Association

Jennifer Volk, Kent County Cooperative Extension, Department of Plant and Soil Sciences

Jennifer Walls, Delaware DNREC, Division of Watershed Stewardship

The DWRC recently granted the following graduate student funding:

• Lauren Lechner, doctoral student, “Nutrient Removal from Stormwater, Wastewater, and Agricultural Runoff Using Scrap Iron and Biochar.” Adviser: Pei Chiu, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

• Daniel Sanchez-Carretero, doctoral student, “Electrochemical Reduction of Dissolved Carbon Dioxide in Water to Hydrocarbons.” Adviser: C.P. Huang, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

When the annual meeting adjourned, this year’s DWRC undergraduate interns presented their water resources research at the Undergraduate Research Summer Scholars Poster Session. For the list of presentations click here.

Photos courtesy of Maria Pautler

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