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U of U Lands $1.2M Water Quality Study Grant from the EPA

Bob Nelson
Lake Mary, Big Cottonwood Canyon, October 2015

Officials at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday that they are awarding a $1.2 million dollar grant to the University of Utah. The money will fund a 3-year study on the impact of drought and extreme events on water quality.

Michael Barber is the department chair of civil and environmental engineering at the U. He says much of their successful grant proposal is based on the fact that the state’s population is expected to nearly double by 2050.

“The development is going to happen, we just want to make it as smart as possible,” says Barber.

He says his team of civil engineers, metropolitan planners and sociologists are focusing on water demands from the entire Jordan Valley Watershed. Barber says the exploding number of new residents will need all the water from Provo River to City Creek including Utah Lake and the Great Salt Lake.

“But they’ll also generate additional storm water because we’ll have to build houses, places for them to work, roads;” says Barber, “all sort of things that will impact our water quality.”

Barber says the result will be more stresses on the system than we have now.  He says their research is expanding on what state water quality managers have already done.

“We have some things that we can work on here that are unique but also transferable to other places,” says Barber.

The EPA announced a total of $4,000,000 in grants to four universities for the research. 

Bob Nelson is a graduate of the University of Utah with a BA in mass communications. He began his radio career at KUER in 1978 when it was still in Kingsbury Hall. That’s also where he met his wife, Maria Shilaos, in 1981. Bob left KUER for commercial radio where he worked for 25 years, and he is thrilled to be back at KUER. Bob and his family are part of an explorer group, fondly known as The Hordes and Masses, which has been seeking out ghost towns and little-known places in Utah for more than twenty years.
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