NC State to Study Economic Value of Improving Water Quality

Photo of waterfall flowing over moss-covered rocks

Verde Falls, NC. Photo courtesy of Honeybadgerhiking via Wkimedia Commons.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced this week that NC State University is one of six universities awarded a total of $4.8 million in funding to work with local communities to better understand the economic value of water quality.

With a grant of $800,000, the NC State team will develop and demonstrate methods for valuing the benefits of water quality in wadeable streams in Southeast watersheds where the surrounding area is undergoing increased urban development.

Head shot of Roger von Haefen
Dr. Roger von Haefen

The principal investigator is Dr. Roger von Haefen, associate director of the Center for Environmental and Resource Economic Policy (CEnREP) and associate professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at NC State. The multidisciplinary research team also includes CEnREP director Dr. Laura Taylor and Dr. Daniel Obenour, assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering. Economists and natural scientists from RTI International and the University of Maryland will also participate.

Along with his project team, von Haefen will work with local communities to better understand the economic value of improving water quality in the North Carolina as well as other southeastern states.

“Clean water is a cornerstone of a healthy community. Many communities face challenging decisions about investing in the protection of water resources,” said Thomas Burke, EPA science advisory and deputy assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “These grants will help measure the costs and benefits of improving water quality, an important step toward protecting the environment and human health.”

The five remaining recipients of the grant are Clark University, Worcester, Mass.; Dartmouth College, Hanover, N.H.; University of Connecticut, Storrs, Conn.; Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich.; and Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. The research grants are designed to provide a critical link between water quality science and the monetary value of the services that healthy waterways provide, including recreational uses.

-Staff Report

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