VASG director appointed to
Water Center state advisory board

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Troy Hartley, director of Virginia Sea Grant, has been appointed by Governor Ralph Northam to the Virginia Water Resources Research Center statewide advisory board. Hartley is one of four new appointees to the Water Center’s advisory board in 2020.

The Virginia Water Resources Center addresses challenges facing the Commonwealth’s freshwater resources, including water quality, water supply, and resource management. Research topics include contaminants such as microplastics and pharmaceuticals, water salinization, and shifts in water availability due to climate change.

“This will hopefully help highlight an environment that’s often overlooked: those gradients where brackish water meets fresh water,” Hartley said. “Coordination between Virginia’s Water Center and Virginia Sea Grant will provide a more holistic view of freshwater and saltwater systems by spanning institutional boundaries.”

The Water Center is housed in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment, and protects Virginia’s freshwater resource through research, education, and outreach. The Water Center’s advisory board includes representatives of federal, state, and local agencies, industries, water user groups, and concerned citizens.

The Water Center’s activities include research seed grants for graduate and undergraduate water resource research, educational blogs and broadcasts, and other informational resources such as research bulletins and newsletters. The center recently earned an “outstanding” designation from the U.S. Department of the Interior, one of 12 centers nationally to achieve this recognition.

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“Coordination between Virginia’s Water Center and Virginia Sea Grant will provide a more holistic view of freshwater and saltwater systems by spanning institutional boundaries," Hartley said.

“We're trying to expand our potential collaboration and water focal point to help address all of the emerging and existing water problems,” said Stephen Schoenholtz, director of the Water Center. “There's no shortage of them, and they're continuing to expand.”

Virginia’s Water Resource Research Center is supported by the United State Geologic Survey and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Throughout the nation, state Water Centers and Sea Grant programs often coordinate efforts where their missions overlap. Hartley’s appointment to the Water Center’s advisory board is part of an effort to foster collaboration that supports Virginia’s water resources, both coastal and inland.

“We’re running these two programs, and water that ends up in estuaries, in the oceans and along the coast, at some point, it's all one,” Schoenholtz said. “There's been a lot of discussion where we should try to collaborate and work together. This is a way to facilitate further collaboration and partnership between the two entities.”

The advisory board meets one to two times annually to provide strategic insight and discuss emerging issues that relate to the Water Center’s activities. Other recent appointees to the advisory board include Deputy Director of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation Russell Baxter, Executive Director of the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts Kendall Covington, and Director of Government Relations for the Virginia Association of Counties Chris McDonald.

Photos by Aileen Devlin | Virginia Sea Grant

Published March 13, 2020.

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"Water that ends up in estuaries, in the oceans and along the coast, at some point, it's all one," Schoenholtz said.