U.S. Senators Katie Britt, Peter Welch Introduce Bipartisan Water Research Optimization Act

June 11, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 11, 2024 – U.S. Senators Katie Britt (R-Ala.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) today are introducing the bipartisan Water Research Optimization Act of 2024 to reorganize the National Weather Service’s (NWS) 13 River Forecast Centers (RFC) under the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Water Center (NWC).

River Forecast Centers support stakeholders with hydrological data and important weather-related forecasts and warnings. Currently, these Centers are accountable to their respective regional offices. This legislation would place the Centers under the supervision and oversight of the Office of Water Protection (OWP) and codify the NWC’s authority under the OWP to lead the transition of water resources research.

Located at the University of Alabama (UA), the NWC is our nation’s first-ever center for water forecast operations and has evolved into a revolutionary, collaborative hub between the public and private sector for research and development.

“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.”

“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 bipartisan Water Research Optimization Act of 2024 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.”

Read the full text of the bill here.


  • The University of Alabama (UA) has made water-related research a priority area, and has established UA and Tuscaloosa, Ala., as a national hub for water science and prediction.
  • Today, the water-research enterprise at UA includes the NOAA National Water Center (NWC), the Cooperative Institute for Research to Operation in Hydrology (CIROH), and the USGS Hydrologic Instrumentation Facility.
  • CIROH is a partnership and national consortium consisting of 28 different academic, government, and private institutions. Both the University of Alabama and the University of Vermont are members of CIROH.