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Research Project Description

Watershed GIS Data Analysis
Internship Program Opportunity
Office of Water
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Washington, DC

EPA Water 2014-317

Project Description:

A postgraduate internship project is available at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA), Office of Water in Washington, D.C. The internship will be served with the Watershed Branch (WB) of the Assessment and Watershed Protection Division (AWPD).

AWPD’s WB is responsible for leading EPA’s Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program nationally, and supporting related watershed protection activities. Carrying out this mission involves a blend of programmatic and policy support activities, technical activities in applied watershed science, and communications activities through interactions with states and the public. AWPD and WB work on managing national environmental databases, collaborating with other EPA water program areas (e.g., nonpoint source controls, water quality standards, and NPDES permitting) and other levels of government (federal, state, tribal, local) to restore and protect surface waters and their watersheds.

This project will provide the selected intern with training and experience in: GIS analyses of watershed characteristics that help states prioritize watershed restoration activities; development and analysis of state-scale and national-scale GIS datasets concerning impaired waters and watershed condition attributes; completion of specific geospatial analysis projects such as statewide watershed condition and restorability analyses; and projects related to impaired waters national databases.

Under the guidance of a mentor, the intern may be involved in a range of activities:

Using national datasets and EPA databases, and reviewing or contributing to various scientific documents

  • Conducting GIS assessments using Recovery Potential Screening of impaired waters and watersheds with states, EPA Regions or other federal agencies, which may include analyzing spatial patterns and indicators for restoration and protection priority-setting.
  • Compiling and applying technical information relating landscape and watershed physical and ecological attributes and stressors to water body impairment, condition and recovery.
  • Reviewing and analyzing a variety of impaired waters issues, which may include tracking and analyzing state-submitted water quality assessment data stored in EPA’s Assessment and TMDL Tracking and ImplementatioN System (ATTAINS) databases and geospatial datasets; relating progress measures to the accomplishment of restoration and protection goals; and participating in planning future national water quality database enhancements.

Based on their involvement in the activities above, the participant will learn: 

  • How to use Recovery Potential Screening and other GIS-based comparative environmental assessment tools at statewide, watershed, and national scales;
  • How watershed science and data are applied to determining whether waters are meeting Clean Water Act goals and what options exist to plan for their restoration;
  • How national and statewide data on watershed health are compiled and managed in online databases that track key metrics and provide raw material for scientists to carry out a wide range of analyses about water quality conditions and trends across large geographic areas.

This internship will provide excellent exposure to the interface of watershed and geospatial science and environmental policy. It offers hands-on exposure to a broad range of environmental and policy issues surrounding aquatic resource protection and restoration through integrative, watershed approaches. 

Qualifications:

Applicants must have received a master’s degree in environmental sciences and assessment, environmental engineering, geography, information technology or another discipline that integrates water quality assessment and geospatial tools within five years of the desired starting date, or completion of all requirements for the degree should be expected prior to the starting date. A background in watershed science, water quality issues and watershed assessment methods is strongly preferred. 

U.S. citizenship is required. The program is open to qualified individuals without regard to race, sex, religion, color, age, physical or mental disability, national origin, or status as a Vietnam era or disabled veteran.

This appointment is full-time for one year and may be renewed for up to an additional three years depending on the availability of funding. The annual stipend will be up to $52,146. Funding may be made available to reimburse the participant’s travel expenses to present the results of his/her research at scientific conferences. No funding will be made available to cover costs for pre-appointment visits, relocation costs, tuition and fees, or a participant's health insurance. The participant must show proof of health and medical insurance. This can be obtained through ORISE. The participant does not become an EPA employee.

Technical Questions:

The EPA mentor for this project is Douglas J. Norton (Norton.Douglas@epa.gov).

How to Apply:

An application can be found at http://orise.orau.gov/epa/applicants/application.htm. Pleasereference Project # EPA Water 2014-317 when requesting information.