WRRI seeks to inspire the next generation as stewards of water resources and capable solvers of resource problems. We work with schools and strive to engage students in activities that help them better understand their connections to and dependence on water and the environment, and provide opportunities for them to interact with water professionals to learn about career opportunities. Whether planting rain gardens, watching the installation of cisterns to harvest rooftop rainwater runoff, or creatively interpreting water themes in art, students respond to water issues with passion and concern.

Project of Note

Combining Lessons in Art, Science and Current Issues

WRRI has partnered with Granville County Schools to bring a joint water-themed art contest to the WRRI annual conference. Beginning in 2013, the contest has yielded about 75 works of art each year from Granville County high school students. WRRI delivers presentations to the classrooms and the students then represent a suite of water related issues and solutions through pencil, oils, watercolors, and various other media. The winning art is featured on the program cover for the following year’s conference and winning students receive cash awards.

Photo by Richard McLaughlin

Photo by Richard McLaughlin


WRRI conducts numerous training workshops, forums and seminars in partnership with government agencies, academic institutions, and other state and local organizations. Topics include erosion and sediment control, watershed management and water-loss control. WRRI shares results by publishing reports, inviting scientists and students to participate in WRRI’s annual conference, managing several listservs and highlighting projects in its quarterly newsletter.

Project of Note

Building Watershed Protection Capacity Through a Statewide Network

North Carolina has 17 major river basins with over 550 groups working toward the health of these watersheds. In 2010, NC State University, as managing entity of WRRI, was designated by the EPA as a Center of Excellence for Watershed Management. Since then, WRRI and partners have been working together to develop a statewide Watershed Stewardship Network that will foster communication between groups, provide trainings and increase access to information and technical expertise.


WRRI-supported research addresses water resource issues that are priorities in North Carolina. Research projects are funded annually using U.S. Geological Survey and state funds. Faculty of North Carolina colleges and universities are eligible. Graduate and undergraduate student support is often provided. Current research projects focus on:

  • Reducing stormwater runoff and nutrient loads using permeable pavement
  • Water quality impacts of rerouting drainage water to restored wetlands
  • Guidelines for improving stormwater retention ponds
  • Impacts to macroinvertebrates from changes in stream temperature and flow
  • Understanding bromide and manganese occurrence in water resources
  • Improving methods for detecting fecal indicator viruses in reclaimed water

Project of Note

Uncertainty in Surface Water Availability Over North Carolina Under Climate and Land Use Changes

A project recently funded by WRRI helps Triangle-area water systems and state managers plan for the future growth of their urban populations. Researchers used an innovative model to understand the system performance under future demand projections of a key drinking water reservoir that supplies water to the “Triangle” region, a rapidly growing urban region of North Carolina. They found that the reservoir will take longer than previously estimated to reach its operating level after a drought event. The findings help managers to better evaluate drought management plans and other response measures.


Scientists often work with local municipalities and state agencies on their WRRI-funded projects. This means that the research addresses relevant issues for the state and that decision makers can readily apply the results. Past efforts include working with water utilities to modify treatment, customer billing and long-term use planning, with stormwater practitioners to update state-approved best management practices, and with private consultants to enhance understanding of stream restoration.

Project of Note

Improving Utility Management Through Applied Research

WRRI administers the NC Urban Water Consortium, a group of 12 of North Carolina’s larger municipal water and sewer service providers, that funds research to provide information and solve problems related to public water supply and wastewater treatment. WRRI also administers the nine-member Stormwater Consortium, which carries out an analogous mission focusing on stormwater runoff and water quality. Results from research supported by these consortia have led to on-the-ground changes for utility and municipal operations.