In an almost casual note in “U.S. Geological Survey Flies High For Now,”(Eos, Feb. 21, 1995, p. 78), the loss of a very significant program was brushed under the rug. The article reads, “However to save about $4.6 million, the survey would shut down 54 water resources research institutes across the United States.” The AGU membership should be aware of the magnitude of this loss.
The water resources research institute (WRRI) program was established in 1964. Each institute conducts basic water resources research, technology transfer, and educates new water professionals. In the past 5 years covered by the congressionally mandated program review (whose conclusions underscored the value of the program), the federally appropriated funds for this program provided support for 2089 faculty and 2593 students. And just this year, the number of publications listed in the program's database (1984–1995) climbed to over 10,000. For programs to be classified as cost effective, legislation only requires a dollar match of two to one. The institute program currently matches each federally appropriated dollar by more than ten dollars! This program is the model for how the new Congress wants government to work: the federal appropriation is sent directly to the states and each state decides the agenda for its share. All institutes are networked to provide national access for help in resolving local problems.