Summary Report of the NSF/EPA WATERS Network Workshop, April 30 - May 1, 2008 (EPA/600/R-08/073) May 2008
The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) organized a workshop to support the WATer and Environmental Research Systems (WATERS) Network project. The WATERS Network is a new joint initiative of the environmental engineering and hydrologic sciences research communities with the support of NSF. The goal of the WATERS Network is to understand and predict the processes that couple water with earth and human systems through networked sensors, assimilation of high-frequency data, and interdisciplinary experimentation. Through real-time monitoring and modeling, water quality and quantity could be assessed at all times and at all places on a regional level. The WATERS Network would be a continental-scale research facility, possibly incorporating 10 to 12 tightly networked sites across the country. Eleven WATERS Test Bed projects are currently in operation. The EPA National Risk Management Research Laboratory (NRMRL) has a number of laboratory and field facilities that could potentially be integrated into the WATERS Network project. EPA/NRMRL and NSF are exploring the possibility of a partnership to produce projects that may serve as new WATERS Network Test Beds.
The NSF/EPA WATERS Network Workshop was held April 30 through May 1, 2008, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Technical experts from across the country specializing in areas of water quality and quantity participated in the workshop. The objectives of the workshop were to make the EPA/NRMRL facilities and staff capabilities known to academic community participants of this workshop and to receive feedback from workshop participants on the potential for academic community collaboration through the envisioned NSF/EPA partnership.
On the first day of the workshop, the participants received an overview of the WATERS Network project and potential partnership between EPA and NSF, and descriptions of four EPA/NRMRL facilities. The group then visited two of these facilities, the Test & Evaluation Facility in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Experimental Stream Facility in Clermont County, Ohio. On the second day of the workshop, the participants divided themselves among five breakout session categories charged to discuss the following: (1) the value of the proposed partnership to academic research, (2) potential research areas, and (3) issues of concern that may arise relative to academic community participation. Each group then presented a summary of their discussions and results, and these results were discussed further with the entire group. The five groups explored the following topic areas as they related to the WATERS Network and EPA partnership:
The following sections summarize the major points and outcomes presented by each breakout group as they relate to their three charges.
Value of Partnership
All groups saw merit to the proposed WATERS Network and EPA collaboration, as there are important benefits to be gained, such as leveraging of resources, the unique expertise of each other’s programs, and the ability to test concepts in the real world. Specifically, the following key points were made regarding the partnership:
Potential Research Areas
The groups presented specific ideas to include EPA facilities in the Phase 2 WATERS Network funding proposal. The following key ideas were discussed regarding projects:
Issues of Concern
Some concerns were expressed regarding the partnership and how it may affect the academic community’s involvement. The main issues are presented below:
A series of follow-up steps to solidify the WATERS Network partnership were considered upon completion of the workshop. The first is to prepare and distribute the Workshop Report to the participants. NSF and EPA will develop a Memorandum of Understanding and determine the details of the financial partnership. Finally, NSF and EPA will begin planning to draft a Solicitation and Management Plan.
You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page.