1999 Progress Report: Ecological Risks, Stakeholder Values and River Basins: Testing Management Alternatives for the Illinois River

EPA Grant Number: R825791
Title: Ecological Risks, Stakeholder Values and River Basins: Testing Management Alternatives for the Illinois River
Investigators: Meo, Mark , Caneday, Lowell , Focht, Will , Lynch, Robert A. , Sankowski, Edward T. , Vieux, Baxter , Willett, Keith D.
Current Investigators: Meo, Mark , Caneday, Lowell , Focht, Will , Sankowski, Edward T. , Vieux, Baxter , Willett, Keith D.
Institution: University of Oklahoma , Oklahoma State University - Main Campus
EPA Project Officer: Hiscock, Michael
Project Period: June 1, 1998 through May 31, 2001 (Extended to May 15, 2004)
Project Period Covered by this Report: June 1, 1998 through May 31, 1999
Project Amount: $849,996
RFA: Water and Watersheds Research (1997) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Water , Water and Watersheds


The overall objective of this project is to identify and compare different environmental and social values held by stakeholders in the Illinois River watershed, and test a management protocol that is technically effective, economically efficient, and socially and politically acceptable. In the first phase of the project, baseline technical, economic, and socio-political assessments were conducted that will serve as the basis for subsequent interactive visualization presentations with policymakers to define alternative management policies that meet these three criteria. In the second phase, policy alternative-specific assessments are being conducted and visualizations prepared for presentation to stakeholders as a vehicle for designing and developing consensus about alternative land and water uses through a policy dialogue. The results of these negotiation sessions will be presented again to policymakers to help refine their policy proposals. In the final phase of the project, the acceptability of the proposals will be tested through a telephone survey of basin stakeholders.

Progress Summary:

Socio-Political Assessment. The major accomplishment of the Socio-Political Assessment (SPA) team during 1999 was the completion of the baseline socio-political assessment. Interviews (n=330) of stakeholders, interested parties, and policy makers were completed in spring. Three rounds of interviews were conducted involving 270 participants. In the first round, 150 face-to-face interviews were held with participants residing, recreating, doing business, or having regulatory jurisdiction over activities in the Illinois River Basin. In the second round, 120 additional face-to-face interviews were conducted using Q methodology. In the third round, 60 more face-to-face interviews were conducted using mental modeling. Based on an expert model (influence diagram) of physical, biological, economic, social, and legal-political impacts developed in the first year of this project, the participants were interviewed to ascertain their knowledge of the impacts, their causes, their effects, and their inter-relationships. The questionnaire data, Likert scale data, and card ranking data were analyzed using descriptive statistics calculated by a mainframe version of SPSS version 8.0. The responses obtained from the Likert scales (trust, uncertainty, and controversy) were combined with the card ranking data (policymaking strategies) to empirically test a prescriptive model of policy making legitimacy developed earlier by W. Focht. Data on concerns also were compared with the data analysis of concerns identified in the cognitive mapping exercises. Descriptive statistics were computed for impact concerns among participants. Group membership of individual concerns included within clusters of concerns within maps also were analyzed using hierarchical aggregative cluster analysis. Seven distinct clusters of concerns were identified. From these clusters, an aggregate cognitive map was defined that identifies how participants conceptualize impacts in the Illinois River Basin (IRB). Q sort data were correlated and factor analyzed using PCQanal software. Five factors emerged from the analysis of concern sorts and four factors emerged from the analysis of management preference sorts. Factors were explained in light of their factor score arrays and factor structures. Mental modeling data were analyzed by coding responses as accurate, wrong, peripheral, particularistic, indeterminate, or missing. These data were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Finally, the ranking of concerns conducted in round three were analyzed again with descriptive statistics and compared to the concern statistics obtained in round one.

Recreation Assessment. This component of the project surveyed Illinois River floaters regarding their knowledge of the environment, management strategies employed, and satisfaction with their respective recreation experiences. Visitors were contacted prior to their float experience and were asked to complete an "ecological and management knowledge" test. Approximately 400 visitors completed the pre-test. These visitors then were asked to participate in a mail-out post-test on satisfaction with the management strategies and the float experience. Approximately 300 visitors agreed to participate in the post-test. Data have been coded and presently are being analyzed.

Economic Assessment. Economic impact analysis in each of the relevant IRB regions will be conducted in three stages: regional baseline impact assessments, regional option-specific assessments, and refined basin-wide assessments. The second year activities have been concerned with completion of databases and economic modeling structures. The tourism/recreational linkages in the local economy are estimated with the input-output model IMPLAN. The impact of tourism/recreational activity is driven by expenditures that constitute a component of final demand for the region. The changes in these final demand expenditures are the key for motivating the economic impacts of concern. The economic indicators to be analyzed include total gross output, employment, employee compensation, property income, value added, and indirect business taxes. Gross output is a measure of the overall economic activity of a region and is analogous to gross national product for a nation. Total income is the sum of employee compensation and property income, while value added is the sum of employee compensation, indirect business taxes, and property income. Value added basically accounts for all new income accruing to a local impact region when a product is produced and sold. Indirect business taxes indirectly benefit local residents through government. A common feature of the existing model structures is that poultry litter is treated as a factor of production. Thus, the model structures are concerned with the derived demand for poultry litter and the nutrients embedded in the litter. In contrast, the supply sources of poultry litter are treated in an exogenous fashion. An overriding concern is that the opportunity cost of adjustments to environmental policies may be overstated. The shortcomings noted above have been addressed by developing a modeling framework that uses an integrated approach to incorporate broiler feeding and production decisions with decisions on disposing of poultry waste. A key element of waste disposal is cropping activity. The presence of cropping decisions serves the role of establishing a derived demand for poultry litter within the region. The cropping decisions also include specifications for commercial fertilizer use. The initial database for this model has been developed and a feasible solution has been obtained.

Technical Assessment: Modeling and Visualization. The objective of the modeling task is to develop and apply a distributed parameter hydrological model that relates ecological and water quality impacts to current management practices and can be used to assess potential land use alternatives. From the modeling results, scientific visualization techniques will be applied to aid communication to stakeholders concerning the implications of development and management practices in the basin. The researchers developed a Distributed Runoff nonpoInt Pollution model (DRIP) that integrates GIS and nonpoint pollution modeling techniques using deterministic water quantity and quality components. The model was applied to the IRB upstream of Tahlequah for a storm event that occurred for a duration of 4 days. As a result of surface runoff during this event, the model predicted the total mass of phosphorus at the outlet of the watershed to within - 8 percent. Sensitivity of land use changes on the mass loading of phosphorus was tested. A 50 percent reduction in the influent phosphorus concentration resulted in 50 percent reduction in terms of riverine concentrations and loadings. Initial efforts to visualize the simulation of water quality and other issues in the IRB involved the transformation of the digital elevation model into a data structure required by Macromedia Director software. In the past year, the work on this program has advanced and now three layers of information are integrated: a flight layer, a photo layer, and a water quality layer. The flight layer enables a user to experience a virtual flight over the watershed with a three-dimensional effect. The photo layer enables the user to select a certain region and have a close look at different environmental concerns. Currently, about 72 photographs with the description of each concern are available. The water quality layer depicts the map of the gauging stations with historical data displayed for each station on water quality parameters, including phosphorus, nitrates, turbidity, etc. Work is ongoing to develop a fourth layer, an aquatic life layer, which shows the number and diversity of selected species within the river system and Lake Tenkiller.

Technical Assessment: Ecological Analysis. Historical data were gathered for the fish, benthic macroinvertebrate, and diatom communities. The goal is to have biological population information available from the map interface in both visual and numerical formats. To assess the health of recent fish communities and historical trends, 12 community metrics were compiled into three Indices of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scores for each sampling date. These scores were graphed over time and overlain with a trend line to examine any long-term trends in fish populations. A photograph of each fish was scanned into the database to provide a visual connection to the species found. In addition, a description of each fish and its environmental requirements was entered. Data from tributary diatom and benthic macroinvertebrate samples were treated by similar methods. Diatom photographs for all species were scanned into the database and several diversity indices were calculated. Six diversity indices were calculated for these data. In addition to the three U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) gauging stations, the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission conducts sampling at seven locations along the river and monitors for turbidity, total nitrogen, nitrate, ortho-phosphate, and total phosphorous. These data were gathered and graphed, with indications of appropriate water quality standards, for the period of record. A significant concern of many stakeholders is the effects of animal waste on water quality, specifically the more than 45 million poultry produced annually. To address these concerns, we developed a measure of the relative magnitude of poultry and cattle waste in the basin. Data on human and animal numbers and nutrients were gathered from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Natural Resource Conservation Service. Based on phosphorous and nitrogen production, it was calculated that the animals in the basin are equivalent to approximately 5 and 15 million people, respectively. An additional concern has been the effects of septic tanks on water quality. It was calculated that 72 percent of human generated waste is discharged to septic tanks, which elevated the concern over their influence; however, the amount of nutrients produced by humans is at most 1-2 percent of that produced by animals.

Future Activities:

Once the baseline physical, biological, and economic impact assessments are completed, and the data combined in a computerized visualization to be used as a decision support tool, policy maker meetings will be convened to review impacts, impact concerns, and impact management preferences, and develop three distinct policy alternatives. Policy-specific impact assessments then will be conducted and visualized. These data and visualizations will be presented to stakeholder focus groups for their reaction. Reactions will be transmitted to a second round of meetings with policymakers to define a preferred alternative that will maximize technical, economic, administrative, and socio-political legitimacies. A final visualization of changes from baseline will then be developed and public meetings held for reactions to the proposed alternative. These reactions will be used to further refine the preferred alternative. Finally, a test of the protocol will be accomplished by assessing stakeholder reactions to the preferred alternative via a random computer-assisted telephone survey of 800 stakeholders residing in the basin. The economic assessment activities over the next year will be focused on finishing the following tasks: completing the validation of the integrated broiler production waste management modeling structure, and developing the relevant economic impacts from alternative policy scenarios. Future hydrological modeling activities will focus on refining the DRIP water quality model. Effort will be made to relate land use and nutrient loading. This will be followed by the development of alternative management strategies and their effect on water quality. The results of alternatives will then be integrated into the visualization program in such a way that the stakeholders and policymakers can understand them. The visualization also will be extended to include study results from the other teams and eventually packaged in a deliverable CD-ROM format.

Journal Articles:

No journal articles submitted with this report: View all 41 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

biodiversity, conflict assessment, ecological impacts, economics, ecosystem health, environmental modeling, environmental policy, expenditures, input-output, interactivity, local economic effects, multimedia, nitrogen, nutrients, outdoor recreation, phosphorus, policy dialogue, poultry production, river impact concerns, river recreation, stakeholder participation, visualization., RFA, Economic, Social, & Behavioral Science Research Program, Scientific Discipline, Geographic Area, Water, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Hydrology, Water & Watershed, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, State, decision-making, Ecological Risk Assessment, Ecology and Ecosystems, Watersheds, Economics & Decision Making, social science research, ecosystem valuation, risk assessment, social performance measurement, decision making, management alternatives, recreational water , aquatic ecosystems, GIS, water quality, Oklahoma (OK), ecology assessment models, community values, flood hazard initiatives, land use, river ecosystems, stakeholder feedback

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
  • 1998
  • 2000 Progress Report
  • 2001
  • 2002
  • Final Report