Projects Funded for Joseph Shapiro


Recent Water Quality Policy and Agriculture

  • Joseph Shapiro


Specific Objectives of the Project:
Re-examine the economic logic that the US Environmental Protection Agency used to justify the Navigable Waters Protection Rule; use machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms to determine the scope of these water quality regulations.

Project Report/Summary of Results:
The first component resulted in a published publicly available report that received media coverage. It also resulted in a peer-reviewed journal article in Science.

The second component trailed a number of graduate students, and resulted in a preliminary set of results and series of meetings with senior staff at the US Environmental Protection Agency to convey the approach and initial results. This is an ongoing project that will involve research and policymaker outreach over multiple years as the EPA revises the Clean Water Act.


Water Quality Regulation and California Agriculture

  • Joseph Shapiro


Specific Objectives of the Project: Assess the efficiency of water quality regulation over the last 50 years, the importance of the weak regulation for water pollution for agriculture, and the potential of new regulatory tools to efficiently regulate water pollution.

Project Report/Summary of Results:
With support from this grant, this project resulted in two papers published in high-impact journals. These papers investigate the effectiveness and efficiency of US water quality policy, including soil and water conservation programs sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The research reviews the last 50 years, discusses differences between regulation of point (primarily industrial and municipal) and non-point (primarily agricultural) source regulation, including data analysis from records in California and other states. The research discusses some new regulatory efforts, including Total Maximum Daily Load requirements, cap-and-trade markets for water pollution, and recent debates over regulating water quality in agriculture through debates following the Supreme Court’s SWANCC and Rapanos decisions, including the Obama Administration’s Waters of the United States rule.

This and related research has been widely discussed in the media, including over 20
(mostly national) news stories, received 800 comments and 45,000 views as the top science story on Reddit, and was featured in a Voxeu article.

This project also compiled extensive drinking water data for research on drinking water quality regulation. Extensive cleaning has been undertaken of the drinking water data, and ongoing research is linking this to other datasets for use in ongoing research on drinking water quality and agriculture.