Activities at OEWRI are primarily focused on the following six program areas:
1. Water and Sediment Quality Laboratory - Selected examples of projects include nutrient load studies, bacteria source-tracking, radioisotope analysis for sediment dating purposes, sediment size and composition analysis for stratigraphic and soil studies, and metals analysis;
2. Geospatial Sciences Laboratory - OEWRI works on many types of projects using GIS, remote sensing, and GPS tools including data base development, map production, spatial modeling, and GPS-based field surveys;
3. Water Quality Monitoring - The Institute is a leader in stream sampling, trend analysis, and water quality data interpretation in southwest Missouri. Through collaboration, contracts, and grants, OEWRI provides expert advice and technical support to watershed groups, local communities, and private businesses to help plan and implement baseline and regulatory water quality monitoring programs. OEWRI also performs watershed nonpoint source modeling to support management and planning projects;
4. Stream Stability and Sedimentation - River research projects focus on four areas: channel morphology, long-term channel dynamics, sediment contaminant dispersal, and habitat assessment/restoration;
5. Collaborative Environmental Programs - OEWRI collaborates with experts and agencies in other fields to address water resources problems in the Ozarks in the areas of urban and agricultural land management, biomonitoring, water hazard analysis, water supply vulnerability, and climate change impacts;
6. Student Training and Research - OEWRI supports undergraduate hourly workers, undergraduate research projects, graduate assistants, and master's thesis projects.