Faced with the challenges of better managing limited water resources, recovering runs for Endangered Species Act listed fish species, and restoring the watershed after a devastating 1996 flood, organizations in the Walla Walla Valley came together to create the William A. Grant Water & Environmental Center at Walla Walla Community College as a nexus for the region’s interests, talent and resources dedicated to water management, education and research.

By the early 2000’s many Walla Walla regional entities, including Walla Walla Community College, were actively engaged in watershed restoration and management efforts and education programs. Their accomplishments had been drawing the attention of state and federal agencies who were interested in how their results could be duplicated in other regions of the state. Yet there was no central place in the region where everyone could gather together to share information and build upon ongoing efforts. Walla Walla Community College seemed like an ideal setting to create such a place, and this effort was championed by the Walla Walla Watershed Alliance and the College. The concept of this gathering place matured from an idea in December, 2004, to a state-funded project (backed by State Representative William A. Grant) in May, 2005.

The Water & Environmental Center was conceived as a facility where education, collaboration and partnership would play a key role in addressing issues essential to the sustainability of eastern Washington’s water-dependent agriculture, salmon runs and overall economy. By combining research and development that leads to innovative new ideas, while also providing hands-on education to train new workers, the Center was envisioned as a place to both generate environmental solutions and spur economic growth that results in family-wage jobs.

Opened in 2007, the initial 10,758 ft2 facility included offices and meeting rooms which created common ground through education and collaboration among a range of partners and interests. It earned LEED Silver Certification for its use of green building practices. In its first year, the Center hosted more than 200 meetings, events and conferences on water, sustainability, and environmental issues, and Center staff and our partners continue to produce an impressive array of public programs and events each year. More…