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Economic Tools for Managing Nitrogen in Coastal Watersheds
Jewhurst, S. AND M. Mazzotta. Economic Tools for Managing Nitrogen in Coastal Watersheds. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-16/036, 2016.
Watershed management requires balancing scientific, political, and social issues to solve environmental problems. This document summarizes questions that watershed managers have about using economic analysis, and gives an overview of the types of economic analyses that are appropriate to answering different questions that watershed managers might ask. It is intended to guide watershed managers in selecting appropriate and feasible approaches to meet their needs.
Watershed managers are interested in using economics to communicate the value of estuarine resources to the wider community, determine the most cost-effective means to reduce nitrogen pollution, and evaluate the benefits of taking action to improve coastal ecosystems. We spoke to coastal watershed managers who had commissioned economic studies and found that they were largely satisfied with the information and their ability to communicate the importance of coastal ecosystems. However, while managers were able to use these studies as communication tools, methods used in some studies were inconsistent with what some economists consider best practices. In addition, many watershed managers are grappling with how to implement nitrogen management activities in a way that is both cost-effective and achieves environmental goals, while maintaining public support. These and other issues led to this project. Our intent is to provide information to watershed managers and others interested in watershed management – such as National Estuary Programs, local governments, or nongovernmental organizations – on economic tools for managing nitrogen in coastal watersheds, and to economists and other analysts who are interested in assisting them in meeting their needs.