EPA Awards $740K Research Grant to University of Missouri to Identify and Measure Economic Benefits of Improved Water Quality

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LENEXA, KAN. (NOV. 3, 2022) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $740,014 grant to the University of Missouri, in Columbia, Missouri, to conduct research with community partners to assess how different populations value water quality improvements and aquatic resources in Midwestern reservoirs.

The University of Missouri was one of four universities to receive such a grant. In total, EPA awarded $2,964,932 for research to refine the measurement of benefits of water quality improvements, either directly or through indicators.

“At EPA, we know that when we take action to protect and improve our water resources, communities see economic and environmental benefits in return. That’s why the Agency is supporting research to improve the scientific basis behind the measurement of these benefits,” said Chris Frey, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “The research funding announced today will help communities and environmental experts better estimate the costs and benefits of improved local water conditions, especially in underserved and overburdened communities.”

Across the United States, the beneficial impacts of healthy water bodies 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.

Other universities receiving awards:

  • University of Minnesota, in Minneapolis to identify water quality improvements and river restoration along the Mississippi River to better understand the benefits, costs, and equity considerations of investments that improve water quality.
  • University of Wisconsin, in Madison, Wisconsin 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, in Austin, Texas to use a two-stage model to produce regional water quality valuation estimates for three understudied regions.

Learn more about the funded recipients. Learn more about EPA research grants.

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