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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Impacts of Motor Vehicle Operation on Water Quality: A Preliminary Assessment


Environmental studies of motor vehicles typically focus on air pollution or noise, but ignore water pollution. In this paper, we examine some of the impacts of motor vehicle transportation on non-point source and on groundwater pollution. Our estimates of the present value of costs for cleaning up leaking underground storage tanks and for controlling highway runoff for major arterials range from $45 billion to $235 billion, which is at least as much as noise damages. Our review of applicable measures suggests that effective policies should combine economic incentives, information campaigns, and enforcement measures, coupled with preventive environmental measures. 

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