The Institute was founded in 1965 by authority of Congress as one of the 54 Institutes throughout the nation and is administered through the United States Geological Survey. The NDWRRI receives funding through section 104 of the Water Resources Research Act of 1984 and it applies its Federal allotment funds to research that fosters: (A) the entry of new research scientists into the water resources field, (B) training and education of future water resources scientists, engineers, and technicians; (C) the preliminary exploration of new ideas that address water problems or that expand understanding of water and water-related phenomena; and (D) the dissemination of research results to water managers and the public. The Institute has a State Advisory Committee consisting of three members representing the three principal agencies dealing with water issues – State Water Commission, State Health Department, and the USGS - and a Technical Advisory Committee consisting of faculty from NDSU and UND. The North Dakota State University
and the University of North Dakota administrations consider the Institute’s activities important and are supportive of its efforts. The Institute’s core funding comes from annual appropriation granted under the authority of Section 104 of the Federal Water Resources Research Act by the US Geological Survey. Though modest, the Section 104 program has provided crucial seed funding for research, education, and information dissemination activities of the Institute drawing on the water expertise of the two universities of the State – North Dakota State University, Fargo and University of North Dakota, Grand Forks.
The NDWRRI continues to meet its mission by dedicating most of the Federal allotment funds toward competitive graduate student research fellowships. Each of the Fellowship is also a research project that will result in a master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation. The faculty advisors find matching or co-funding for the research through the university, or grants from local, county, state or federal agencies, foundations, or industry. Also, the Institute co-sponsors seminars and conferences on water themes. A newsletter is published annually.
- Fellowship projects for the year 2003-04 include phosphorus transport through wetlands, hydrological modeling of the spatial and temporal variation of prairie potholes at the basin level, effects of West Nile virus infection, immune function, and age on female yellow-headed blackbird, comparative study of fossil and extant fish growth including analyses of mean annual temperature, modeling groundwater denitrification by ferrous iron using PHREEQC, evaluation of walleye to suppress fathead minnow populations in Type IV & V wetlands, and a study of microbial regrowth potential of water in Fargo, North Dakota and Moorhead, Minnesota.
- In year 2002-03 five WRRI Fellows - three Ph.D and two M.S. – graduated.
- In recent years, Delta Waterfowl Foundation, MN DNR - both the Wildlife and Fisheries Divisions, MN Pollution Control Agency, MN Agriculture Department, Institute for Wetland and Waterfowl Research, USDA Forest Service – North Central Research Station, ND Health Department, ND State Water Commission, ND Rural Water Systems Association, ND EPSCoR, and Fargo and Moorhead Water and Waste water treatment plants have supported the Fellowship projects either through co-funding or in-kind support.
- One Fellowship research work resulted directly in three publications on the algae of the Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge and specifically on the presence of algal blooms under the ice. The work lead to major contracts with the Corps of Engineers to study the algae of the Sheyenne River and assess the effect of the Devils Lake diversion on the algal communities, a contract with ND Health (funded by the EPA) to sample and enumerate algae as part of a project to establish nutrient criteria for area rivers, and a major NSF grant to study the biodiversity of microalgae.
- One Fellowship permitted the development of a screening method, that can determine total PCB and PCDF in water sample and tell before hand whether the sample merits detailed chromatographic analysis.
- In another Fellowship project, the new species found in the Sheyenne basin indicate that the algal communities in North Dakota are diverse and not well documented. The results will contribute to a better understanding of the algal communities and the environmental factors that affect them.
- 47th Annual Midwest Groundwater Conference and International Water Conference both in Fargo, ND, and one seminar series – Biotic Resources Seminar Program at NDSU, Fargo.