Watershed characterization and management is a relatively new, holistic approach that is currently being used nationally to address water quality and quantity issues. The watershed approach is a coordinated framework for environmental management that focuses public and private sector efforts to address the highest priority problems within hydrologically‑defined geographic areas (watersheds) taking into consideration both ground and surface water flow. The aim of the watershed approach is to work with the regional community to prevent pollution and achieve and sustain environmental improvements.
The Geographic Information System (GIS) is central to the watershed approach and is the tool that is employed to assimilate, analyze, and present the various data that is collected. Since this data is collected by professionals from a variety of disciplines, e.g., engineers, geologists, hydrologists, biologists, chemists, political, and social scientists, it is imperative that the well‑trained GIS technician have a fundamental understanding of the role that each of these disciplines have in the overall watershed process.
Students that complete the Environmental Science Certificate will be able to conduct watershed investigations on small watersheds and assist as a team member in watershed characterization on larger, more complex systems.
Those that complete both the Environmental Science and the GIS certificate programs will be able to play a pivotal role in the entry, analysis, and presentation of the data collected by the multi‑discipline watershed characterization and management team.