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OU establishes a new water and sustainability institute

University of Oklahoma President David L. Boren announced today that OU is establishing an Institute for Water and Sustainability using the University's research expertise to benefit Oklahoma and the nation, including emerging regions of the world. The institute will be led by a national expert, who will be appointed to an endowed faculty position funded by a $2 million gift from Corix, a multi-utility infrastructure company, which is in a long-term association with OU in its utility system. The Institute will include the new Oklahoma Water Survey patterned on the Oklahoma Geological Survey, which is also housed at OU.

"The formation of the Corix Institute was guided by the importance of understanding and managing water in all its dimensions," Boren said. "The demand for water to sustain life and the economy as well as for its natural beauty presents challenges for many organizations involved in its protection and management. The Corix Institute seeks to bring together experts from many disciplines to understand the complexity of this precious natural resource and to provide research and data for leaders to make informed decisions regarding its conservation and use."

"The endowment to help set up the Corix Institute is consistent with our commitment to both sustainability and investing in the communities where we work," said Brett Hodson, President and CEO of Corix. "It also builds on our unique collaboration with OU, which we believe is the first of its kind between a company like Corix and a major university in the United States."

The Corix Institute, which will be located within the National Weather Center, will consist of three programs: the established and internationally noted Water Technologies for Emerging Regions Center; the Oklahoma Water Survey, a new program that will be created; and a future program focused upon water and sustainability in critical regions. The Institute will be led by an established expert to be identified in a national search, which will begin immediately. In the interim, Paul Risser, chairman and chief operating officer of OU's Research Cabinet, will guide the institute's activities.

Water Technologies for Emerging Regions Center conducts extensive international research, using innovative technologies to provide clean water and better sanitation to emerging regions of the world. Led by OU Professor David Sabatini, this program has achieved international recognition and provides outstanding learning experiences for OU students, who work throughout the world as well as in some areas of the United States.

The Oklahoma Water Survey will be modeled after the University's four existing natural resource surveys: the Archeological, Biological, Climatological and Geological surveys. The Water Survey will serve as the focal point within the University to bring together experts in water research from multiple disciplines. The Survey also will serve as a contact point for collaborating with all those people, organizations, agencies and municipalities external to the University who want to tap into the expertise and the water-related data and information. The search for the director of the Oklahoma Water Survey will begin within the year.

Because water is so important, complex and multidimensional, federal, state tribal and municipal governments are engaged in its protection and management, including addressing legal and policy challenges arising from competing demands for the same water supply. In Oklahoma, seven state agencies are charged with jurisdictional responsibility for water. Within the Corix Institute, the Oklahoma Water Survey will serve as a point of contact for the agencies, synthesizing complex data and providing a center location where information can be accessed.

One of the first tasks of the Oklahoma Water Survey will be to collaborate with state agencies and tribal governments to complete the Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan to achieve the best possible blueprint for the future understanding and management of Oklahoma's water resources.


Contact: Catherine Bishop
University of Oklahoma

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