UI, IIHR Join Regional Water Consortium
The University of Iowa (UI) and IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering (IIHR) took part in a signing ceremony on April 15 for a new collaborative effort, the Coastal-Hydrologic Consortium, to help solve flooding problems and other water-related issues in the Mississippi River Watershed and surrounding areas, including the Gulf of Mexico.
Regional water management has become a critical issue not only in Iowa, but also across the country and around the globe. Repeated high water events on the Mississippi River are becoming more common, leading to widespread flooding and rain events that leave residents’ homes flooded and streets unpassable. These storm systems can cause great personal and economic hardship.
It’s crucial that the science and the translation of that science into actionable projects and programs be developed. With that in mind, on Monday, Louisiana State University, Louisiana Sea Grant College Program, IIHR, and The Water Institute of the Gulf signed a memorandum of understanding to form the Coastal-Hydrologic Consortium.
The MOU reflects the partners’ recognition that together, they are better able to develop research projects that help advance science and engineering of coastal-hydrologic processes. These include the connections between coastal and inland areas for the purpose of making these communities and economies more resilient in the face of disaster.
“This is what we’re supposed to do,” said Scott Hagen, UI alumnus and former Advisory Board member, as well as director of LSU’s Center of Coastal Resiliency and Louisiana Sea Grant Laborde Chair. “Our mission is to find ways to collaborate to not only perform the best science possible, but also to find ways to get that information presented in a way that decisions can be made for our communities’ future.”
“Building on ongoing collaborative efforts among our institutions, this MOU provides an ideal framework for the exchange and transfer of information, knowledge, and technology among the partners to address the challenging problems associated with combined coastal and riverine flooding,” said Larry J. Weber, Edwin B. Green Chair in Hydraulics at UI and professor of civil and environmental engineering. Weber is also for the former director of IIHR, a research institute that is part of the College of Engineering at the University of Iowa. IIH Director Gabriele Villarini also attended the event.
“This strategic partnership will help us tackle one of today’s most complex problems that communities around the world are facing – flooding,” said LSU Interim Vice President of Research & Economic Development Sam Bentley. “The science and policy born from this partnership will have a ripple effect that can strengthen our communities, the economy, and our way of life.”
“Universities produce the research needed to solve problems, while Louisiana Sea Grant and the Institute provide the outreach to put that research to work for elected officials, decisions makers and the public,” said Robert Twilley, executive director of Louisiana Sea Grant and professor in the LSU College of the Coast & Environment. “This consortium provides the mechanism to create a powerful synergy and increase all of our abilities to problem-solve around this important issue.”
“This gathering of expertise and different skills sets in order to tackle complicated challenges is the exact purpose of The Water Campus, where LSU Center for River Studies is one of the foundational occupants,” said Clint Willson, director of the LSU Center for River Studies. “Bringing together the universities, the Institute, and Louisiana Sea Grant [allows us] to build not only the science around water management and adaptation, but also to transfer that knowledge and tools so it can be applied in people’s lives. That’s why I find this so exciting.”
“Finding ways to bring together experts from many different fields of study in order to better tackle water management challenges is at the heart of the Institute’s mission,” said Hugh Roberts, the Institute’s vice president of engineering. “I am incredibly excited about what this new consortium will accomplish as we work together to bring science into action.”
“We’ve always maintained that finding ways to help communities, economies and cultures adapt to a changing environment is more than any one institute or university can do alone,” said Justin Ehrenwerth, Institute president and CEO. “Consortiums, like the one we formed today, allow us to effectively collaborate and bring our collective expertise and abilities to the table and produce the type of tools communities around the world need.”
IIHR and the University of Iowa look forward to a productive collaboration with these partners, for the good of Iowans and all residents of the Mississippi River Basin.