The University of Florida campus (Pic by Random McRandomhead, via Flickr)

The Environmental Protection Agency has designated the University of Florida’s Water Institute as a “Center of Excellence for Watershed Management,” the second such institution in the state.

The designation comes with benefits, including EPA letters of support for additional grant opportunities, involvement in local and regional watershed issues, and EPA technical support.

“A watershed approach is the most effective framework to engage communities and address today’s water resource challenges,” said EPA Regional Administrator Gwen Keyes Fleming in a press release. “This designation will allow the University of Florida to continue developing the strong partnerships with other institutions, organizations and agencies to protect and restore the unique watersheds throughout Florida.”

UF Water Institute Director Wendy Graham said the designation acts as a perfect complement to the school’s other research and education programs, and “provides an important resource for stakeholders with interest in developing solutions to water quality problems.”

“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,” reads a press release detailing the designation. ”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.”

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