The Catalpa Creek Watershed Project and Watershed Demonstration, Research, Education, Application and Management (D.R.E.A.M.) Center

Author(s): Ingram, R.

A significant portion of Mississippi State University’s (MSU) campus and property resides within the Catalpa Creek Watershed (referenced by USGS as the Red Bud-Catalpa Creek Watershed, HUC 12 #031601040601, and by MDEQ as MS #8090). This includes important MSU education and research facilities, such as the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station’s (MAFES) South Farm, which is used by numerous departments and programs. Unfortunately, some of MSU’s land uses in this watershed may have contributed to the pollution of Catalpa Creek. Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) studies that apply to this watershed include those for sediment, nutrients, and pathogens. Each of these TMDLs recommend practices to reduce pollutant amounts to acceptable levels thereby providing improved habitat for the support of aquatic life and allowing for the attainment of applicable water quality standards.

On April 2013, MSU, through the Mississippi Water Resources Research Institute (MWRRI), was designated a Center of Excellence for Watershed Management with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), Region 4 of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and MSU. The MOU recognized that MWRRI had “demonstrated to the satisfaction of EPA and MDEQ that it has the capacity and capability to identify and address the needs of the local watershed stakeholders” and was charged to “work with colleges and universities in Mississippi to engage students (graduate and undergraduate), faculty and staff from the full suite of disciplines needed to adequately address specific watershed issues” and to “draw upon other local, state, federal resources and expertise.”

MWRRI, in its role as a Center of Excellence for Watershed Management, is advantageously positioned to bring resources together from various MSU departments and programs; nongovernmental organizations; and state and federal agencies to address the needs in the Catalpa Creek Watershed. This project will not only put appropriate BMPs on the ground in strategic locations in the watershed to restore water quality and habitat, but also establish a venue for watershed-based demonstrations, research, education, application and management.

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