Whole Watershed Health and Restoration: Applying the Patuxent and Gwynns Falls Landscape Models to Designing a Sustainable Balance Between Humans and the Rest of Nature

EPA Grant Number: R827169
Title: Whole Watershed Health and Restoration: Applying the Patuxent and Gwynns Falls Landscape Models to Designing a Sustainable Balance Between Humans and the Rest of Nature
Investigators: Costanza, Robert , Boumans, Roelof , Maxwell, Thomas , Villa, Ferdinando , Voinov, Alexey , Wainger, Lisa
Institution: University of Maryland
EPA Project Officer: Hiscock, Michael
Project Period: March 1, 1999 through February 28, 2001
Project Amount: $699,916
RFA: Water and Watersheds (1998) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Water , Water and Watersheds


As part of an EPA/NSF funded project we have developed an integrated, spatially-explicit model of the Patuxent watershed, MD. We are also expanding and applying this model to the Gwynns Falls watershed in urban Baltimore as part of the NSF funded Baltimore Urban LTER project. These models and their associated data bases give us a unique capability to test various policy scenarios and ecosystem restoration options at the whole watershed scale, for both a largely rural/suburban watershed (the Patuxent) and a largely urban/commercial watershed (Gwynns Falls).

  • Further develop and test the Patuxent Landscape Model (PLM) as a tool for whole watershed analysis and restoration, specifically:
    a. further develop and test the socioeconomic sectors and their dynamic links to the ecological sectors.
    b. apply the approach to the Gwynns Falls watershed and intercompare with the Patuxent.
    c. perform detailed scenario analyses including a range of spatial pattern, management, policy, and climate options.
  • Develop (with broad stakeholder participation) and test methods to assess the ecological health of ecosystems and watersheds.
  • Develop preferred future states for the watersheds using the results of 1 and 2 above and broad stakeholder participation.
  • Based on the above, test the degree to which various management policies can restore the ecological health of the Patuxent and Gwynns Fallswatersheds and achieve the preferred future states.
  • Approach:

    In this project, we will:
    1. Define and test ecosystem health indicators for watersheds - using a mediated workshop process to integrate science-based indices and stakeholder-based preferences.
    2. Explore alternative scenarios using the integrated Patuxent Landscape Model (PLM) and the Gwynns Falls Landscape Model (GFLM).
    3. Use a Multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) approach to formally analyze the scenarios and their trade-offs.
    4. Use a web-based interactive framework to extend the discussions to the larger stakeholder community. This will occur at all stages, including the definition of ecosystem health, the selection and analysis of scenarios, the application of the MCDA analysis, and the implementation of management policies.

    Expected Results:

    The proposed research will increase capabilities in several areas critical to watershed-based management and ecological restoration, including:
    1. Development of useful and workable indicators and the ability to assess the ecological health of whole watersheds.
    2. Development of the ability to assess the relative effects of various spatially explicit policy and management options on ecosystem health at the whole watershed scale. This is critical to developing the ability to address non-point sources of nutrients and other pollutants.
    3. Development of the ability to design effective whole watershed restoration strategies.

    Publications and Presentations:

    Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 27 publications for this project

    Journal Articles:

    Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 12 journal articles for this project

    Supplemental Keywords:

    Mid-Atlantic, Maryland, MD., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Geographic Area, Water, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Nutrients, Water & Watershed, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Ecosystem Protection, Restoration, State, Monitoring/Modeling, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Economics and Business, Mid-Atlantic, Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration, Urban and Regional Planning, Social Science, Watersheds, stakeholder groups, aquatic ecosystem, nutrient transport, ecological effects, ecological exposure, community involvement, nutrient loading, sustainable development, nutrient sensitive ecosystems, alternative urbanization scenarios, suburban watersheds, urban watershed rehabilitation method, non-point sources of nutrients, Gwynns Falls, biodiversity, non-point source pollution, watershed sustainablity, urban landscapes, socioeconomics, watershed modeling, Maryland (MD), ecological recovery, web site development, integrated assessment, integrated watershed model, aquatic ecosystems, environmental rehabilitation, ecosystem restoration, non-point sources, ecosystem, ecosystem health, water quality, environmentally stable landscape, landscape characterization, socioeconomic, ecology assessment models, intergrated watershed model, Patuxent River watershed, watershed restoration, land use, stakeholder feedback

    Relevant Websites:


    Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1999 Progress Report
  • Final Report