CORVALLIS - Statistics experts at Oregon State University have received a four-year, $2.9 million grant from the Environmental Protection Agency for research on survey design and analysis methods relating to the environment and aquatic resources.

A goal of the study will be to assist states and tribes with environmental survey design and analysis, and develop statistical tools or distance learning techniques to transfer that knowledge.

"In the U.S. we spend more than $1 billion a year on environmental surveys and too often they don't provide the type of data we need, especially some of the information required by the Clean Water Act," said Don Stevens, an associate professor of statistics at OSU. "Some stream water samples, for instance, are taken where it's convenient, and don't necessarily give us an accurate picture of reality."

It should be possible to make these surveys more rigorous, scientifically accurate and practical to use through the new research, he said. In the project, OSU will work closely with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the California State Water Resources Control Board, and the San Francisco Estuary institute on important environmental surveys. These studies are looking at such issues as coho salmon in Oregon streams, monitoring of an estuary and associated wetlands, and assessment of surface water quality.

When complete, the new approaches should be applicable to many types of environmental surveys, not just those of aquatic resources, researchers say.

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Robert Smythe, 541-737-3480