National Water Research Institute

National Water Research Institute

A 501c3 non-profit, the National Water Research Institute (NWRI) of Fountain Valley, California, sponsors projects and programs focused on ensuring safe, reliable sources of water now and for future generations.

Company details

18700 Ward Street , Fountain Valley , CA 92708 USA
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Business Type:
Research institute
Industry Type:
Water and Wastewater
Market Focus:
Nationally (across the country)
Year Founded:

Our interests include:

  • Encouraging public support of better water practices, such as conservation and water use efficiency.
  • Implementing strategies that better allocate and sustain water resources on regional and national levels.
  • Protecting existing water supplies from impacts on quality and quantity.
  • Developing technologies that identify and remove new contaminants from water supplies.
  • Identifying treatment technologies that are cost and energy-efficient.
  • Educating youth on water issues and future water needs.

To leverage funding, NWRI arranges strategic partnerships with leading organizations in the water and wastewater industries. Support from private foundations is also used to fund compelling research and education initiatives.

Since our founding in 1991, we have collaborated with over 100 partners around the world to fund efforts in water research, education, and outreach.

  • Funding and guiding scientific research projects.
  • Supporting graduate fellowships and other water-related educational programs.
  • Developing outreach material, such as reports and videos.
  • Holding events like workshops and conferences to promote new issues and technologies.
  • Providing peer-review panel services for local and state water agencies.
  • Managing projects or programs for water agencies and others.
  • Awarding scholarly and practical achievements in water research with a national prize.

  • Increased Public Health Protection. Waterborne disease has virtually been eliminated in the U.S. — leading to longer life spans, reduced medical costs, and an improved quality of life — because of continuous advances in state-of-the-art water treatment processes. By supporting such research, we can ensure the safety of our public water supplies now and for generations to come.
  • A Healthier Environment. Urban runoff, agricultural runoff, and industrial discharge can impact our freshwater and marine environments, causing algal blooms, habitat loss, and other negative effects, like fish kills. By preventing and managing these impacts, we can avert beach closures and seafood contamination, while protecting wildlife populations and the natural beauty of lakes, rivers, and coastlines.
  • Drought Management. We can meet the needs of our growing population without experiencing water shortages by protecting the water supplies we currently have through conservation, as well as developing new sources of water through water reuse, capturing stormwater, and desalination. The use of alternative water supply options provides a broader water supply portfolio, which increases water reliability.
  • Better Water-Use Efficiency Practices. Historically, the majority of our water is used for agriculture to water crops and for outdoor uses, such as irrigating lawns. These areas would benefit from better water-use efficiency practices, such as conservation or the use of recycled water, to preserve our water supplies.


NWRI was established in 1991 to address water supply and quality challenges facing our nation through cooperative research efforts. Our mission is to create new sources of water through research and technology and to protect the freshwater and marine environments.

NWRI's main source of funding is provided by the Joan Irvine Smith and Athalie R. Clarke Foundation. Mrs. Joan Irvine Smith, a philanthropist from San Juan Capistrano, California, encouraged the establishment of NWRI because she recognized that water was critically important to a viable economy and healthy environment, especially in regions like arid Southern California.

'When I was growing up,' Mrs. Smith said in 1999 speech, 'I spent many of my school vacations visiting my grandfather, James Irvine II, at the Irvine Ranch. I often accompanied him on inspection tours of his wells, irrigation lines and ditches, and reservoirs and dams. From this childhood experience, it was deeply impressed upon me that no problem overshadowed the Irvine Ranch more than the supply of water.'

Based in Fountain Valley, California, NWRI was organized under a Joint Powers Agreement and governed by a Board of Directors originally made up of five water and wastewater agencies located in Orange County, California.

NWRI is now governed by six water and wastewater agencies from across Southern California, including the Inland Empire Utilities Agency, Irvine Ranch Water District, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Orange County Sanitation District, Orange County Water District, and West Basin Municipal Water District.