Today, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) breaks ground on a $18.8 million National Water Center on the campus of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. The national center aims at improving forecasting and reporting of drought, floods, and other water crises to improve policy.
One of the first goals of the new center will be to create a map-centric national flood forecasting system to reduce the lives lost and damages incurred. The costs of flooding has risen dramatically from $5 billion per her in the 1980s to $10 billion a year now, with more than 100 people killed each year. The new strategy combines the efforts of many federal agencies, including the U.S. Geological Survey, The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Agriculture, and the Environmental Protection Agency, into an Integrated Water Resources Science and Services (IWRSS).
The center will open next summer with a staff of 50 people, with room to expand to 200 people within the new facility. The University of Alabama is ramping up its own efforts in this area with recruiting underway for a director of its Environmental Institute for Sustainable Water, Air and Land Resources.