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.