The Only Thing Constant
is Change

Heraclitus had it right when he said the only thing constant is change. Nowhere is that more true than here on the Mississippi River and Delta, one of the most complex riverine, deltaic, and coastal systems in the world. But we are not alone – the same issues of land and estuary degradation, subsidence, endangered water supply, and rising sea levels affect the entire planet.

This is why the Institute was created back in 2011: to develop tools to better understand natural and human aspects of deltaic, coastal, and water systems and apply our knowledge to restore coasts and ecosystems, and to protect people and infrastructure. The work that we do helps ensure livable communities and a thriving economy and environment.
 
We have made great progress over the years in supporting the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, as well as other organizations in Louisiana, and we strive to realize the vision of our founders to extend our reach globally, through engagements in Chile, Egypt, the Netherlands, and the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.

Indeed, we have made tremendous progress in only four short years, and I have been truly privileged to lead this remarkable organization as its founding President and CEO.
 
In keeping with our theme of change, I have been working collaboratively with our Board of Directors to plan and initiate a search process that will identify a new President and CEO for the Institute as I plan for retirement. Of course, we will keep you posted on our progress, and I look forward to introducing you all to our new leader in the coming months.

We have been blessed with great people to lead and carry out our program thus far, and we have been supported by so many who have coached, collaborated, and partnered with us. I know the Institute’s next leader will only continue to strengthen this organization and provide for an even brighter future.  

Stay tuned and all the best,

Charles "Chip" Groat
President and CEO

Featured Project 

THE RESTORE ACT CENTER OF EXCELLENCE
In 2014, through a competitive process, the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) designated The Water Institute as Louisiana’s Center of Excellence. In this role, the Institute is tasked with bringing together the best research and science to identify and address key issues needed to advance the State’s Coastal Master Plan.

The designation came as a result of the Resources and Ecosystem Sustainability, Tourism Opportunities and Revived Economy of the Gulf Coast Act of 2011 (RESTORE Act), which allocates 80 percent of all Clean Water Act penalties paid by those responsible for the 2010 gulf oil disaster to Gulf Coast restoration activities and calls for the establishment of Centers of Excellence for impacted Gulf Coast states, including Louisiana.

Today, the Center is working in partnership with environmental experts, scientists, and researchers to develop a research strategy. It is anticipated that the research strategy will be finalized this August and a request for proposals will be issued in September.

“The Center of Excellence provides a unique opportunity for researchers working on challenges facing coastal Louisiana, and we are working with our partners to ensure we establish a process that awards the most relevant research projects through a competitive grants program," said Kelly Darnell, Deputy Director of the Center and Research Scientist at the Institute.

In addition, as part of the Center of Excellence, the Institute has established an executive committee to help support and oversee its operations. The committee is comprised of senior research officials from the following universities and research organizations:
  • Louisiana State University
  • Louisiana Tech University
  • Nicholls State University
  • Tulane University
  • University of Louisiana at Lafayette
  • University of New Orleans
  • Xavier University
  • Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium

“By working with our sponsor, CPRA, along with academic and research institutions across the state, we will advance the state of science and support implementation of Louisiana's Coastal Master Plan," Darnell said.

To enlarge the important milestones and schedule of events planned for the Center, click the image above. 

Learn more about the Center of Excellence at www.la-coe.org. 

In the News
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Staff Spotlight

EHAB MESELHE 


There are those who work hard, and then there is Ehab Meselhe. One of the first employees of the Institute, Ehab Meselhe, Director of Natural Systems Modeling and Monitoring, takes pride in providing information that shapes the future management of coastal and deltaic systems. Meselhe leads a team of 10 researchers, graduate students, and interns focused on providing technical advice and support to the Institute’s clients, particularly in the area of integrated biophysical modeling. 

"What impresses me most about the Institute is our ability to provide technical and scientific knowledge to guide decision-making processes," says Meselhe. "We are at the intersection of advancing the state of knowledge and using it in project implementation, which is truly exciting. Our ability to solve complex issues at an extremely efficient rate makes us unique. Because we are an independent and nimble organization, we have the technical resources and manpower to quickly address challenges and execute applied research and technical support projects."

With the goal to build long-term sustainability for the lower Mississippi River and surrounding deltaic regions, Meselhe and his team have been developing and applying an integrated biophysical model to better understand system dynamics and provide information to support those within government and business who make decisions that affect our coast and communities. Some project examples include the Mississippi River Hydrodynamic and Delta Management Study, a joint effort between the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers focused on identifying and evaluating a combination of large-scale management and restoration features to address the long-term sustainability of the lower Mississippi River Deltaic Plain, as well as a study commissioned by CPRA focused on recommending next steps for planning and implementing Mississippi River Sediment Diversions. As part of these projects, Meselhe leads an integrated team, including partners from government, academia, and the consulting community, to develop a suite of predictive models that include such system dynamics as water level, salinity, nutrients, vegetation, and morphodynamics.

Meselhe hopes to leverage the Institute’s work in supporting efforts to benefit communities outside the Gulf of Mexico. "In Louisiana, we face nearly every environmental challenge imaginable. I would like to see our research and experience exported to other coastal communities across the globe. Creating a comprehensive, large-scale coastal restoration plan like Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan for other coastal areas is something we strive to support.” 

Before joining the Institute, Meselhe spent 15 years with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where he directed the Institute of Coastal Ecology and Engineering in addition to serving as a professor for the Department of Civil Engineering.

To contact Ehab Meselhe, send an email to emeselhe@thewaterinstitute.org. 

Each quarter, we will feature a different member of our distinguished team to highlight the diversity and strength of competencies housed at The Water Institute.
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