Are We Throwing Dollars Down the Drain? An Innovative Approach to Watershed Optimization for Non-point Source Contamination
Abstract:The implementation of the US EPA's Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) in the Upper Big Walnut Creek Watershed began in 1999 with the goal of reducing atrazine loads in Hoover Reservoir, a 22-billion-gallon drinking water source for Columbus, Ohio. The program, which provides incentives to farmers for selected agricultural best management practices (BMPs), has produced beneficial water quality trends in the reservoir and has decreased the City's treatment costs. However, BMP efficiencies and the overall cost-effectiveness of the program have not been assessed.
This project was completed in two phases. The goal of Phase I was the development of a methodology for evaluating the effectiveness of watershed-scale non-point source pollution abatement systems. Phase II of the project, and the focus of this discussion, had the primary goal of developing a framework for optimizing the effectiveness of watershed-scale pollution abatement systems using atrazine loading to Hoover Reservoir as a case study. Although the project focused on atrazine, the framework needed to be relevant and reproducible for other contaminants and watersheds. To achieve these goals the following primary questions had to be answered:
How can we evaluate BMP performance?
What are the most efficient BMPs in the project watershed?
How does the effectiveness of the BMPs measure up to the incentives provided, and how does this compare to water treatment costs?
What proportion of the farmed watershed must implement BMPs to meet the desired atrazine load reduction in the reservoir?
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: October 1, 2007
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