Clean Water Measures

Nov 19, 2018 at 4:00pm

Cornell University

The U.S. has invested $140 per person per year – or more than $1.9 trillion – since 1960 to decrease pollution in rivers, lakes and other surface waters. According to a pair of new studies, this investment in clean water is working, but questions remain about whether the benefits outweigh the costs. researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, and Iowa State University collected 50 million water quality measurements at 240,000 monitoring sites throughout the U.S. between 1962 and 2001. Most of the 25 water pollution measures they used showed improvement, including an increase in dissolved oxygen concentrations and a decrease in fecal coliform bacteria. The number of rivers safe for fishing increased by 12 percent. 

Do the costs of current U.S. water-quality regulations exceed their benefits, or do existing analyses underestimate benefits or overestimate costs?

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