November 17, 2022
DALLAS, TEXAS (November 17th, 2022)– The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a grant to the University of Texas at Austin totaling $741,054 for research to refine the measurement of benefits of water quality improvements. The research conducted will also be used to determine the impacts of water quality by studying three larger coastal areas with waterbodies including Puget Sound, Long Island Sound, and the Texas Gulf Coast.
“Maintaining healthy water quality standards on our coastal regions is a high priority for all communities in our nation,” said Regional Administrator Dr. Earthea Nance. “In the face of climate change, coastal regions are vital not just for public health but for the health of a wide variety of organisms. We thank the University of Texas at Austin for taking the initiative in studying such a vital area in Texas.”
The beneficial impact of a healthy waterbody allows for a reduction of water treatment cost in the surrounding areas. By prioritizing the study on three coastal areas, the research team will be able to estimate the effects on property values due to water quality changes. Once the study is complete the results are expected to be disseminated widely through several peer-reviewed journal articles, two doctoral dissertations and through social media.
Across the United States, the beneficial impacts of healthy waterbodies can be extensive. These benefits include recreational uses such as swimming, boating, and wildlife viewing as well as increased property values and reduced drinking water treatment costs. Quantifying these benefits can help support national, state, tribal, and local water quality decision-making.
However, there are many gaps in the existing research, such as the valuation of water quality improvements in many areas, the benefits of improvements to coastal areas, and how water quality changes may impact underserved communities. To address these and other research gaps, the funded projects will evaluate economic benefits and costs, including predicting the environmental justice and other distributional consequences of surface water quality improvements nationwide.
The full list of universities receiving awards is below:
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn., to identify water quality improvements and river restoration along the Mississippi River to improve the understanding of the benefits, costs, and equity considerations of investments that improve water quality.
University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis., to collect data and select models quantifying stressors in watersheds to estimate the economic benefits of surface water quality improvements in nationwide locations in a scientifically valid manner.
University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, to use a two-stage model to produce regional water quality valuation estimates for three under-studied regions.
University of Missouri, Columbia, Mo., to conduct research with community partners to assess how different populations value water quality improvements and aquatic resources in Midwest reservoirs.
Learn more about the funded recipients.
Learn more about EPA research grants.
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