WSU’s Bill Funk Recognized for Clean Water Contributions

PULLMAN, Wash. — William H. Funk, director of the Washington State Water Research
Center and Washington State University civil engineering professor, was recently awarded a
United States Geological Survey Individual Distinguished Service Award for helping to integrate
universities’ water research programs into the USGS’s external water research program.
Funk retires in June, concluding 33 years of global involvement in restoring health to lakes,
rivers, streams, reservoirs and other water resources.
One of his major accomplishments at the Center has been restoration of Liberty Lake in the
Spokane Valley, which attracted housing and high-tech industry developments there. For 25
years, the lake has been ecologically well-balanced without a major algal bloom. Thirty-some
other watershed-lake systems in Washington have benefited from Funk’s work, including lakes
Coeur d’Alene, Roosevelt and Newman.
Additional achievements range from helping lake home owners solve water problems to
regional lake cleanup, from providing expert testimony to U.S. Congressional committees to
helping strengthen a similar water and environmental research center in Amman, Jordan. In May,
Funk will assist in setting up a new water research center in Taipei, Taiwan.
Funk’s research and teaching experience began in the 1960s with lakes and reservoirs in
Utah under the direction of Arden Gaufin at the University of Utah, where he earned his doctoral
degree. As a Utah native, his familiarity with the environmental issues of the Southwest’s remote
canyons and mesas helped convince actor Robert Redford to locate his Institute for Resource
Management at WSU and the University of Idaho for three years during the early 1980s.
Funk came to WSU in 1968, working with WSU sciences, agriculture and engineering faculty
to help form the environmental engineering and environmental science programs. He advised
WSU students for the nation’s first Earth Day in 1970 and chaired the environmental science
program from 1978-1980. His strong efforts in public education and water quality programs
earned him the WSU President’s Faculty Excellence Award for Public Service in 1984.
Funk has directed the State of Washington Water Research Center at WSU since 1982. The
center supports new professors in water research and assists experienced researchers fund new
research ideas. This center has led the country’s other 53 water research centers in obtaining
USGS competitive grants for the past three years.
Funk has received international recognition, including the 1988 North American Lake
Management Society Secchi Disk Award for outstanding individual efforts in lake restoration
and the 1976 Water Environment Federation’s Sindney Bedel Award. In April, he was awarded
the Friend of Lakes Award by the Washington Lakes Protection Association.
Funk has edited publications for the Pacific Northwest Water Pollution Control Association
and was its president in 1983-84. He cofounded the Washington Lakes Protection Association
and was vice president for the Washington section of the American Water Resources
Association. Funk served on the board of control for the Water Environment Federation and the
Universities Council on Water Resources, and has been president of the Terrene Institute for the
past three years.
Funk looks forward to flying his airplane in the North and Southwest, visiting his grandson,
Will, in Spokane and spending time on and over the lakes and streams he loves. After three
decades at WSU, he advises young professors to “only work at a university if you really like
students and gain satisfaction from seeing them grow and prosper in their chosen fields.
Students are what it’s all about.”