EPA Designates Center of Excellence for Watershed
Management at Mississippi State University

Contact: Davina Marraccini, 404-562-8293 (direct), 404-562-8400 (main), marraccini.davina@epa.gov
ATLANTA – Mississippi State University has been designated a Center of Excellence for Watershed
Management, becoming the tenth such institution in the Southeast. Representatives from the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency Region 4, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ)
and Mississippi State University signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) today to help
communities identify watershed based problems and develop and implement locally sustainable solutions.
“A watershed approach one of the most effective frameworks to engage communities and address today’s
water resource challenges,” said EPA Regional Administrator Gwen Keyes Fleming. “Ultimately, this
designation will help fulfill our mutual goals to protect and restore water quality and improve the quality of
life in our local communities.”
” MDEQ has a history of partnering with our state’s academic institutions that comprise the Water
Resources Research Institute.Together we have improved our approaches to water resource sustainability
and water quality protection and restoration throughout the state,” said MDEQ Executive Director Trudy D.
Fisher. “The focused science and applied research through the Center of Excellence for Watershed
Management will further strengthen our efforts to address current challenges and needs related to water
The Center will be housed at Mississippi State University and will be a resource for universities throughout
the state. To become a recognized Center of Excellence, the institution must demonstrate technical
expertise in identifying and addressing watershed needs; involvement of students, staff and faculty in
watershed planning, protection, and restoration; capability to involve the full suite of disciplines needed for
all aspects of watershed management; financial ability to become self-sustaining; ability to deliver and
account for results; willingness to partner with other institutions; and support from the highest levels of the
“Mississippi State University is extraordinarily pleased to partner with the EPA for this Center of
Excellence,” said Dr. David Shaw, Vice President of Research & Economic Development at Mississippi
State University. “Research in water quality and quantity is one of the highest priority areas for the
University and our center will utilize the breath of capacity from the entire University to address these
Some of the benefits of being a recognized Center of Excellence include receipt of EPA technical
assistance where needed (instructors, speakers, etc); promotion of the Center of Excellence to
stakeholders; EPA letters of support for grant opportunities; and identification of opportunities for Center of
Excellence involvement in local and regional watershed issues.
For decades, EPA and Mississippi have protected the state’s lakes, rivers and wetlands by regulating
specific points of pollution; the most common of these being sewage treatment plants and factories.
Although this approach led to the successful cleanup of many waterways, others still remain polluted from
sources not as easily regulated. These more subtle sources include farms, streets, parking lots, lawns,
rooftops or any other surfaces that come in contact with rainwater. Today, EPA and MDEQ take a broader
approach to water protection, looking at both the individual waterway and the watershed in which it is
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. 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.
More information about EPA Region 4’s other Centers of Excellence for Watershed Management in the
Southeast is available at:
More information about priority watersheds in the Southeast is available online at: