K-State launches institute to advance sustainability and water research excellence
Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023
Kansas State University is launching the Kansas Water Institute, a collaborative, multidisciplinary initiative that will draw expertise from across K-State's campuses as well as from partnering Board of Regents institutions and local, state, and federal agencies and organizations to address sustainability and water resource challenges facing our state and our nation. | Download this photo.
MANHATTAN — Kansas State University is taking the next steps toward a more sustainable future by launching and leading the collaborative, multi-institutional Kansas Water Institute.
The interdisciplinary institute will build on the work of the Kansas Water Resources Institute, which was established under the 1964 Water Resources Research Act and historically operated out of K-State's College of Agriculture. The new Kansas Water Institute will be elevated to a university-level priority at K-State to bring interdisciplinary university resources and expertise together to develop innovative solutions to today's water challenges, leveraging the more than 75 faculty across the university who are working on water-related issues.
"Because the new institute is a universitywide initiative, we will be able to utilize the expertise and resources from across the institution," said Beth Montelone, senior associate vice president for research. "This approach will allow us to address water resource challenges in a meaningful and timely manner."
The institute will draw upon expertise from every K-State college, campus, and Research and Extension station to drive transformational discovery, including conducting research on novel irrigation and water management approaches, reservoir sediment reduction strategies, urban stormwater mitigation, risk factors for water-contaminant driven disease, social perceptions and behaviors around water use, and climate modeling.
In addition to research, the Kansas Water Institute will advance interdisciplinary water-related teaching and engagement.
"Kansas State University's launch of the Kansas Water Institute builds on our goal to generate a sustainable future for water throughout Kansas," said Gov. Laura Kelly. "As my administration remains laser-focused on implementing long-term solutions, I'm looking forward to collaborating with all our partners to drive forward this work to ensure Kansans have reliable water sources for generations to come."
The Kansas Water Institute's interdisciplinary working group, which includes representation and engagement from all of K-State's academic colleges and campuses, will continue to identify themes and priorities that align with state and national water challenges.
"Water is vital to Kansas' economy, wildlife and citizens' well-being," said Chris Culbertson, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "This institute will examine water issues from a broad perspective, as our challenges are not only technical but also climatological, cultural and sociological. We will bring together close to 100 faculty members and researchers across the university to address these challenges in a variety of interdisciplinary teams. We will not only do research to solve our current water issues but also train the next generation to ensure that we can sustainably use this precious resource to allow the state to prosper into the future."
The collaboration won't stop at the university level — tackling the state and nation's water resource challenges will also require leveraging the expertise and knowledge of partnering Board of Regents institutions as well as local, state, and federal agencies and organizations, including the Kansas Department of Agriculture, the Kansas Water Office, the Kansas Geological Survey, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the Kansas Biological Survey and the U.S. Geological Survey.
The Kansas Legislature is also working to provide Kansans with the framework, policy and tools — developed in concert with agency partners and stakeholders — to manage, secure and protect a reliable, safe, long-term statewide water supply through the Kansas House Water Committee led by Rep. Jim Minnix.
"The Kansas House Water Committee worked diligently this year to work with experts and community stakeholders to craft historic legislation to invest in the state's water policy and sustainability," said Rep. Minnix. "I appreciate all the time and effort my fellow committee members dedicated to this important issue, and we look forward to furthering our work with the help of the Kansas Water Institute."
Susan Metzger, director of strategic interdisciplinary program development at K-State and director of the Kansas Center for Agricultural Resources and the Environment, said that addressing the water resource challenges of our state and nation will require a collective effort and enhanced collaborations across research and education institutions, agencies and organizations.
"We have tremendous water-related expertise in our state," Metzger said, "but by bringing together our existing expertise in new ways, we have the opportunity to tackle our state's and our nation's water resource challenges at a more impactful level."
The Kansas Water Institute supports the focus on sustainability and community health and well-being in the K-State Opportunity Agenda, part of the Next-Gen K-State strategic plan.
"We recognize that water is not just a local concern but a critical state and national issue that demands innovative solutions," said K-State President Richard Linton. "That's why we're leveraging the expertise of our renowned faculty to build strong partnerships committed to making a meaningful impact on water conservation and sustainability. This initiative embodies our university's mission as the next-generation land-grant university by working collaboratively with stakeholders to positively impact the water future for Kansans and our nation's generations to come."
For more information about the Kansas Water Institute, visit the institute's website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.