WWCC Water & Environmental Center earns Best Practices Award

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WALLA WALLA -- The Walla Walla Community College Water & Environmental Center was one of two projects in the state recognized with the 2010 Workforce and Economic Development Best Practices Award.

The water center was recognized by Gov. Chris Gregoire and heralded as an "unprecedented collaboration" for creating jobs and training workers for the clean-energy economy.

The annual awards are organized by the state's Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board and Department of Commerce.

They honor programs and projects that create jobs and economic activity while also helping Washington workers get needed job training to earn a living-wage.

Also recognized was the King County Jobs Initiative program, which over the last 12 years has helped low-income people become certified in toxic and hazardous cleanup work to restore environmentally contaminated land.

Between that and the community college's Water & Environmental Center, more than 100 jobs have been created and another 115 job-seekers have been trained, according to an announcement on the award.

"These two exceptional projects demonstrate the potential Washington has in being a world leader in developing expertise and skilled workers in the clean energy economy," Gregoire said, in a prepared statement.

"I applaud the innovation of these two programs - knowing the training these programs provide not only help the individuals receiving it, but our environment as well."

The Water & Environmental Center is brings multiple agencies together under one roof.

Those include: the Walla Walla Watershed Management Partnership, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Washington State Department of Ecology, the Sustainable Living Center and Walla Walla Community College professional education and environmental management staff.

The Center has made it possible to expand regional education programs in water resources and management, helping train workers in irrigation technology, water resources technology and watershed ecology. It also serves as a research and development facility, expected to generate new projects and applications toward resolution of critical water resource issues.

"The need to use water resources wisely and fairly is a universal need on our planet. The Water and Environmental Center has taken an issue that has for years divided economic interests in Eastern Washington and brought them together to explore innovations in technology and diplomacy that can convert this conflict into solutions that could be applied globally. The center's education certification programs ensure that our residents will be well equipped to apply these innovations," Gregoire said.

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