History and Mission

About Us


Developing and communicating water-related strategies and tools for Kentucky.


Healthy and sustainable water for Kentucky’s communities.


The Kentucky Water Resources Research Institute (KWRRI) is one of 54 federally authorized water resource institutes and centers located at land grant universities throughout the United States and its territories.  The Institute operates under the authority of the Water Resources Research Act of 1964 (P.L. 88-379 codified at 42 U.S.C. 10301 et seq.) which authorized the establishment of a water resources research and technology institute or center in each state. The institutes were charged with (1) arranging for competent research that addresses water problems or expands understanding of water and water-related phenomena, (2) aiding the entry of new research scientists into the water resources fields, (3) helping to train future water scientists and engineers, and (4) getting results of sponsored research to water managers and the public. The program is administered by the U.S. Geological Survey as the Water Resources Research Institutes (WRRI) Program under the general guidance of the Secretary of the Interior.

The WRRA of 1984 (P.L. 98-242) reauthorized the WRRI program, which was further amended by the 101st, 104th, 106th, and 109th Congresses. These changes require institutes to match each federal dollar received through the program with two non-federal dollars and specify that the federal funds are not to be used to pay the indirect costs of the institutes. Congressional support for the program has been strong throughout the years, but the level of funding has remained fixed since the early days of the program.

Located on the campus of the University of Kentucky, KWRRI has been involved in water resources issues for over 50 years and has established itself as an important link between water-related personnel at academic institutions, local, state, and federal government agencies, and the private sector. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated KWRRI as a Center of Excellence for Watershed Management. 

The Institute was established in 1964 by Dr. Robert A. Lauderdale, a Civil Engineering professor. Since that time, there have been seven other individuals directing the Institute. Dr. Lindell Ormsbee assumed his current position as director in 2004. Prior to the appointment of Dr. Lindell Ormsbee, Kentucky Water Resources Research Institute was managed by the following directors:

  • Lindell E. Ormsbee, 2004-present, Director, Civil Engineering

  • James A. Kipp, 2001-2004, Interim Director

  • Bob G. Volk, 1999-2001, Director, Agronomy

  • Lindell E. Ormsbee, 1998-1999, Acting Director, Civil Engineering

  • Lyle V.A. Sendlein, 1992-1998, Director, Geological Sciences

  • Billy J. Barfield, 1988-1992, Director, Agricultural Engineering

  • David T. Kao, 1983-1987, Director, Civil Engineering

  • Ralph R. Huffsey, 1982, Acting Director, Civil Engineering

  • Robert B. Grieves, 1974-1981, Director, Civil Engineering

  • Robert A. Lauderdale, 1964-1973, Director, Civil Engineering

Since its inception, the Institute has sponsored short courses and conferences, supported hundreds of students in many departments and colleges, and produced numerous research reports. Many journal articles have been published by faculty and research staff associated with the Institute.

Who we serve

  • State water quantity and water quality management agencies, state environmental health agencies, state geological surveys, state forest surveys, state economic and community development agencies

  • Local governments, councils of governments

  • Municipal water, wastewater, and environmental health agencies, water conservancy/reclamation/irrigation districts, farm organizations

  • Private water and wastewater companies

  • Businesses and industries that use, manage, or otherwise affect natural resources.

  • Farmers and other agricultural enterprises

  • Environmental organizations

  • Schools

  • Individuals

  • Regional agencies, such as river authorities, regional planning commissions, Appalachian Regional Commission, river basin commissions, development councils, the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District, and the Pacific Development Council

  • Federal agencies, such as U.S. Geological Survey, Environmental Protection Agency, Corps of Engineers, Department of Energy, Department of Defense, Department of Agriculture, Department of the Interior, NOAA, NRCS, Bureau of Reclamation, Indian Health Services, National Park Service, FEMA, and various national labs.