Economic Valuation of River Systems

Economic Valuation of River Systems

New Horizons in Environmental Economics series

Edited by Fred J. Hitzhusen

The book applies benefit–cost analysis and a wide array of non-market and distribution economic valuation methods in ecologic context to determine the pay-off and distribution impacts of various infrastructure and water quality improvements to eight river systems in the Great Lakes region of the US. The generally positive results have important implications for public policy and future research.

Chapter 1: The Role of Biology and Ecological Engineering in Watershed and River Restoration

Timothy C. Granata and Ulrike Zika

Subjects: economics and finance, environmental economics, valuation, environment, environmental economics, valuation, water


Timothy C. Granata and Ulrike Zika INTRODUCTION This chapter examines the role of biology and ecological engineering in watershed and river restoration by combining concepts of ecosystem theory into environmental design. The chapter is organized in the following way: first, a brief introduction to the biology of rivers and streams, second a review of different classification systems of streams, followed by the presentation of some accepted ecological concepts in riverine systems. Next, the use of classification systems and ecological theories is discussed in the context of the emerging field of ecological engineering. Some general restoration concepts for riverine ecosystems then are presented. Finally, the idea of sustainability is introduced followed by a discussion of how ecology, economic, and engineering principles go together to make a sustainable design. BIOLOGY OF RIVERS AND STREAMS In lotic (that is, flowing) systems, primary production is usually dependent on light intensity, and nutrients are supplied by the flow. In smaller streams in wooded areas with high shading, primary production is very low. This is also true for large “murky” rivers, where a large part of the light is absorbed in the turbid water column and cannot penetrate to the bottom. However, slow-flowing areas in large streams can have a high level of planktonic production, similar to lentic (lake and reservoir) systems. In contrast to other ecosystems (forests, lakes), rivers are not autonomous regarding their energy supply. They depend on surrounding ecosystem for energy input. In a small stream, Fisher and Likens...

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