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UMBC, USGS to Celebrate Groundbreaking of Water Science Center

Chesapeake Bay Watershed Researchers, Officials
to Mark Site of Tech Park’s 3rd Building Thursday

UMBC celebrates a milestone for science in the state’s public interest Thursday as it breaks ground for the new home of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Maryland-Delaware-Washington, D.C. Water Science Center at bwtech@UMBC, the University’s on-campus research and technology park.

Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith, UMBC President Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, and other federal, state and local government officials will join UMBC and USGS environmental scientists at 5523 Research Park Drive, the future site of the one-story, 24,000 square-foot facility for a groundbreaking ceremony starting at 11:30 am.

Construction of the USGS building is scheduled to begin later this month. The real estate development firm Corporate Office Properties Trust (COPT) is managing construction of both the USGS building and a 110,000 square-foot, four-story, multi-tenant building at bwtech@UMBC, the park’s fourth of five planned buildings.

The USGS center employs over 60 scientists and support staff, who are expected to strengthen collaborative work with UMBC and U.S. Forest Service scientists who monitor the ecosystems of the Chesapeake Bay watershed and the health of the region’s water supply, rivers and streams.

The USGS’s decision to move from its previous location in White Marsh was strongly influenced by the longtime research partnership between USGS and UMBC’s Department of Geography and Environmental Systems, Center for Urban and Environmental Research and Education (CUERE), Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the U.S. Forest Service and the Baltimore Ecosystem Study.

According to UMBC and USGS officials, the move will give USGS scientists easier access to student employees, labs, scientific instruments, and university researchers. It is expected that UMBC science and engineering students will benefit from on-campus opportunities to combine classroom training with hands-on research experience.

UMBC’s formal connection with USGS goes back to 1997, the beginning of the Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES), a National Science Foundation-funded Long-Term Ecological Research Project whose field headquarters are located on the UMBC campus. BES, which was renewed for another six-year term in 2004, makes Baltimore’s streams, rivers and water quality among the most highly monitored in the country thanks in large part to an extensive network of USGS equipment and personnel.

The USGS building is the latest in the progress of bwtech@UMBC, Maryland's first university research park, and the only research and development park in Baltimore County. The 41-acre park's first building was completed in 2001 and is occupied by RWD Technologies. The second building was completed in 2004 and is fully leased to 15 entities. The park’s first two buildings were sold to Merritt Properties for $22.5 million in December, 2005.

Posted: June 27, 2006, 12:00 PM