Measuring Opportunity Costs of Ecosystem Service Provisioning Using Hydroeconomic Models
The Rio Grande Basin is a highly managed network of surface water delivery for agriculture, industry, municipalities, and environmental services in the southwest United States. Recent drought and growing regional demand for water have resulted in the total regional demand for water exceeding the supply of surface water in the basin, and increased reliance on groundwater and depletion of the water table. Reductions in overall water supply make efficient allocations of surface water across competing uses even more critical. Further, assessing the socio-economic implications of water allocation to uses is necessary in evaluating policy and management alternatives. Evaluating the benefits of allocating water to environmental services is a challenge, due to absence of well-defined market values for these goods and services. This work will assess the non market value of an environmental service, conservation of the Willow Flycatcher, in the Rio Grande Basin using an integrated economic-hydrological modeling framework. The analysis will quantify the value lost to agriculture and industrial production under realized environmental surface water flows. The values of foregone production represent an implied minimum societal value for provision of environmental services. This work will allow the PI to generate preliminary results, manuscripts, and the opportunity to train a graduate student; all of which will facilitate extramural funding opportunities and novel research on water use and management.