Ecosystem Service Valuation and Market Development to Improve Freshwater Resource Quality
- / Photo by Atik sulianami on Unsplash
Protection of freshwater resources is one of the grand environmental challenges. The Clean Water Actof 1972 and its amendments recognized the need to associate upstream pollutant discharges with receiving water body degradation, and develop efficient methods to mitigate impacts. While point source have been effectively addressed, largely through waste-water treatment upgrades, non-point sources have been both difficult to identify and control as they can emanate from the full landscape.
Prioritizing the allocation of resources to treat the most vulnerable systems is an ambitious endeavor requiring new environmental knowledge, monitoring systems, and watershed ecohydrological modeling and informatics. Significant advances must include a collaboration of experts in environmental science, engineering and economics. A hybrid mixture of regulatory and market-based mechanisms to environmental restoration has emerged over the last few decades to allocate resources to both reduce pollutant sources and increase potential sinks (sites that can take up and transform pollutants into less harmful substances) within contributing watersheds.
To approach this problem requires skills and background of a multi-disciplinary team of watershed hydrologists, environmental engineers, aquatic ecologists, and economists. In this research project, we join three faculty members crossing the Schools of Arts & Science, Engineering and Applied Science, and Business, each with different interests and tools, recognizing the need for synthesis across fields to make significant scientific and policy progress towards solving the major environmental challenge of providing sustainable and resilient freshwater resources.