Press Release

Welch and Britt Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Refocus National Hydrology Research, Boost Flood Resiliency

Jun 12, 2024

Bill would make hydrology research center at UVM premanent

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senators Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Katie Britt (R-Ala.) introduced the bipartisan Water Research Optimization Act of 2024 to solidify existing hydrology work happening through the Cooperative Institute for Research to Operations in Hydrology (CIROH), the United States’ first-ever center for water forecast operations. CIROH has evolved into a revolutionary, collaborative hub between the public and private sector for research and development. 

This legislation would make CIROH’s research center at the University of Vermont (UVM) permanent and align hydrology work at the National Weather Service with current work at UVM to boost flood resiliency research. CIROH’s national coalition of academic, industry, and non-profit partners includes UVM, and functions closely alongside the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Water Center to support stakeholders with hydrological data and important weather-related forecasts and warnings.  

“Investing in hydrology modeling and prediction is crucial to boosting flood resilience across the country, from Vermont to Alabama. That includes supporting important hydrology research and programs at the University of Vermont that improve hydrologic forecasting, such as the Cooperative Institute for Research to Operations in Hydrology,” said Senator Welch. “Our bill will strengthen and align current hydrology research at the National Weather Service with vital research at UVM to foster flood resilience and help communities rebuild better after natural disasters.”  

“The National Water Center has been instrumental to NOAA’s efforts to strengthen America’s water forecasting capabilities, improve weather-preparedness, and modernize water technologies,” said Senator Britt. “I’m proud of the Center’s world-class capabilities, and I have no doubt this legislation will further enhance critical research and applied sciences that benefit our entire nation. I’m grateful to Senator Welch for his support and leadership through our bipartisan bill.”  

“We are grateful to Senators Welch and Britt for their leadership in introducing pivotal legislation to support CIROH. Funding for these efforts allows the University of Vermont to continue vital research on water that impacts the quality of life of Vermonters and communities across the country. We are proud to be able to contribute to this work,” said Kirk Dombrowski, Vice President for Research and Economic Development, University of Vermont

Currently, CIROH Centers are accountable to their respective regional offices. This legislation would place CIROH Centers under the supervision and oversight of the National Weather Service’s Office of Water Protection and codify the National Water Center’s authority to lead the transition of water resources research. The bill would also reorganize and streamline the National Weather Service’s 13 River Forecast Centers under the NOAA National Water Center.  

Read the full text of the bill.