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The Pennsylvania Center for Water Resources Research (WRRC) is part of the National Institutes for Water Resources. We are one of 54 federally funded state and territorial water research centers created by the Water Resources Research Act of 1964 (P.L. 88-379 codified at 42 U.S.C. 10301 et seq.), which authorized the establishment of a water resources research and technology institute or center in each state.

The water resources institutes are required by law to be located at each state’s land grant university (or some other site designated by the governor). Pennsylvania's WRRC is located at the Pennsylvania State University.

The WRRC is part of the Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment (PSIEE), which is the central coordinating structure for interdisciplinary research at The Pennsylvania State University. PSIEE's mission is the discovery and transfer of knowledge in the use and management of environmental resources. The Institute is dedicated to research, information dissemination and public education, and the training of graduate students.

Core funding for WRRC consists of a base grant from the United States Geological Survey (USGS), which varies each year from $85-92K. The bulk of these funds are distributed to water resource researchers in Pennsylvania through a competitive grant program, where these federal monies must be matched with non-federal funds on a 2:1 basis.

Research Focus

With a focus on water problems pertinent to Pennsylvania and the mid-Atlantic region, research areas include water quality and quantity management, hydrologic model development and assessment and fate and impact of pollutants. The center maintains a fully equipped and staffed inorganic Water Quality Laboratory. A water resources extension specialist, employed jointly by the center and the College of Agricultural Sciences, is a liaison between scientific and technological community and the public.

Meet the Director

Beth BoyerElizabeth W. Boyer, associate professor of water resources at the Pennsylvania State University, is the Director of the Pennsylvania Water Resources Research Center and assistant director of the Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment. Boyer came to Penn State in January 2009 from U.C. Berkeley, where she was a tenured associate professor, and had previously served on the faculty at the State University of New York at Syracuse. Her prior experience also includes appointments with the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Research Program in water resources. She has a B.S. in Geography from Penn State and earned her M.S. and Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia.

Boyer’s research explores hydrological and ecological processes that affect water quality and quantity. She is interested in how human activities and environmental variability influence conditions and trends in streams, rivers, and estuaries. She has published extensively on the impacts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and carbon on watersheds throughout the U.S. and in Latin America. Such studies provide a scientific basis for design and implementation of land management programs and policies to mitigate the effects of pollution, and to protect, conserve, and restore surface waters.

Our Location

The Pennsylvania Center for Water Resources Research is located in the Land and Water Research Building on the University Park campus of the Pennsylvania State University as part of the Penn State Instiutes of the Energy and the Environment.

Map of location

Our History

The Pennsylvania WRRC was established through the Water Resources Act of 1964 (Public Law 88-379), which sought “… to stimulate, sponsor, provide for, and supplement present programs for the conduct of research, investigations, experiments, and the training of scientists in the fields of water and of resources which affect water.” The Act charged a college or university in each state appointed by the state’s governor to “…plan and conduct and/or arrange for a component or components of the college or university with which it is affiliated to conduct competent research, investigations, and other experiments of either a basic or practical nature, or both, in relation to water resources and to provide for the training of scientists….”

In 1964 Governor William W. Scranton designated Penn State as the official educational institution to carry out the provisions of the Water Resources Act in Pennsylvania. The Institute on Land and Water Resources, the precursor to ERRI, was selected by the University to administer the program and the Water Resources Center was formed.

Our Mission

  • The mission of the Pennsylvania WRRC is stipulated by the Federal Water Resources Research Act and has three objectives:
  • To plan, facilitate, and conduct research to help resolve local, state and national water resources problems.
  • To train water scientists and engineers through participation in water resources research and outreach.
  • To promote technology transfer and the dissemination and application of research results.