Sunday, October 13, 2013

Residents willing to pay for water improvements

A press release from the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences: Managing storm-water runoff in urban settings is critical to keep basements dry, streets clear and passable, and streams and rivers healthy, but how much are homeowners willing to pay for it? A University of Illinois survey of randomly selected households in Champaign-Urbana concluded that people are willing to pay to reduce flooding in their own basement, but they may also place a high value on water quality and the health of local rivers and streams.

“It came as no surprise to us that people who experienced basement flooding were willing to pay for the city to manage the storm-water runoff,” said U of I environmental economist Amy Ando. “However, what did surprise us is that people were also willing to pay quite a lot of money for improvements in environmental quality—in having cleaner water in the streams and better hydrological functioning.”

Ando explained that parking lots, buildings, and streets interrupt the way the hydrological system usually functions.  Low-impact, environmentally friendly storm-water management options, such as rain gardens, permeable concrete, cisterns, and green roofs, are designed to mimic the way things function in the absence of development.

“These low-impact options use decentralized storm-water management methods aimed at keeping water on site rather than the traditional concrete structure that takes water away as quickly as possible,” Ando said. “If we use low-impact development approaches to storm-water management instead of just building bigger storm water pipes, we can reduce flooding, have cleaner water, and improve habitat for wildlife.”

While there has been a lot of research about storm disasters and the benefits of some kinds of flood reduction, this is the first research to determine joint monetary estimates of multiple benefits to society of modern storm water, including environmental improvements more complex than just reduced water pollution....

Acros Fukuoka building with Roof garden, in Fukuoka city, Japan. Shot by Pontafon, Wikimedia Commons,  under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license

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