<OL> <LI>Enhancing the communication among the land grant universities to better support local, state and regional initiatives for improving water quality<OL> <LI>Developing and implementing a regionally coordinated and integrated education, extension, and research program that takes advantage of the expertise at the land grant universities, minimizes the duplication of effort, and leverages multiple funding sources to effectively address water quality issues<OL> <LI>Expanding our working relationship with federal, state and local partners to better share resources and compound expertise to develop sound scientific solutions to our water resources problems throughout the region. </OL>These goals will be accomplished by developing working groups for four regional initiatives including: 1) animal waste management for small farms, 2) onsite wastewater treatment system (OWTS) management, 3) nutrient management, and 4) watershed management/water conservation/agricultural water management. <P>Each of the four Land Grant Universities (i.e., University of Puerto Rico, University of the Virgin Islands, Cornell, and Rutgers) will assume a leadership role for each of these initiatives. For each of the regional initiatives, the working groups are responsible for identifying on-going research, extension and education activities in USEPA Region 2 and for developing a plan that builds and expands upon the on-going efforts.
Non-Technical Summary: This project focuses on the development of working groups for four regional initiatives identified for USEPA Region 2: 1) animal waste management for small farms, 2) onsite wastewater treatment system management, 3) nutrient management, and 4) watershed management/water conservation/agricultural water management. Each of the four Land Grant Universities within Region 2 (University of Puerto Rico, University of the Virgin Islands, Cornell, and Rutgers) will assume a leadership role for each of these initiatives and working groups. The working groups will be responsible for identifying on-going research, extension and education activities in USEPA Region 2 and for developing a plan that builds and expands upon on-going efforts. <P> Approach: The communication among the land grant universities will be enhanced through the use of the regional web site, newsletters, meetings, conference calls and electronic mail. The site will be enhanced to serve as a clearinghouse for reports, meeting minutes, fact sheets, and other materials that are generated by the Region 2 Project. A Regional Program Associate (PA) from Rutgers will be provided to serve as a coordinator of the working groups to help disseminate the information generated at each of their meetings and conference calls. The PA will be in a position to conduct the follow up and assure that all the action items that were discussed at the meeting are accomplished. The existing WRRI infrastructure will be used to enhance coordination. The WRRIs have a long history of funding scientific research and have an infrastructure in place that includes a senior faculty advisory panel and an external advisory panel. By working closely with these groups, the Region 2 Project can expand its reach to engage other faculty members and further communicate efforts of the Region 2 Project to a broader array of experts. Working groups will be formed in each of the regional initiatives. Although preliminary working groups have already been established, the next three years of the project will see these working groups formalized and leading the effort to achieve all the goals outlined in the proposal for each of the regional initiatives. The working groups will each have a team leader who is directly related to the Region 2 Project, along with supporting faculty and local, state, and federal partners. Each working group will develop a research, education and extension agenda. The first step with the working groups will be to identify on-going research, education and extension efforts in the region that can benefit from collaboration with the Region 2 Project. Multi-state, multi-institutional, and/or multi-disciplinary proposals will be developed to leverage additional funds to address water resources issues in the region. The working groups have the expertise and experience to review the needs of the region and to identify funding sources for research, education and extension projects to address these needs. Members of each working group will collaborate on writing proposals, thereby minimizing each individual's proposal writing effort while generating superior proposals given the expertise involved. Additional federal, state and local agencies will be engaged as project partners. Most of the faculty members who are involved in the working groups already have well-established relationships with local, state and federal agencies. These working groups will work with the USEPA Liaison to recruit non-academic representation to each of the working groups. Resource sharing and funding sources will open by bringing these stakeholders into the working groups. The visibility of the USDA CSREES Water Quality Program will be expanded within the region. The working groups will play a key role in achieving this objective by hosting workshops, professional roundtables, stakeholder meetings, and needs assessments.