Stormwater management is a huge struggle for urban dwellers. Impenetrable road surfaces and buildings are the reason behind floods. And as a result, the water quality of various natural water bodies.
However, green infrastructure, including features such as rain barrels, green roofs, rain gardens, and on-site water treatment, can provide affordable and environmentally sound ways to manage precipitation.
But, green infrastructure is challenging to maintain, because it is decentralised across a city and requires constant maintenance and upkeep. One way city management can address those challenges is to rely on volunteers to help maintain such features.
A new study from the University of Illinois and Reed College aims to estimate the value people place on improved water quality and storm management, and how much time and money they are willing to contribute to enjoy those benefits.
The researchers presented respondents in Chicago and Portland, Oregon, with a series of hypothetical scenarios that described ways to reduce flooding, improve water quality, and strengthen aquatic habitats in local rivers and streams.
"Our research indicates that these environmental goods produced by green infrastructure have significant monetary value and that people might be willing to volunteer a significant amount of time to help provide those goods," says Amy Ando, professor of agricultural and consumer economics at U of I, and one of the study's authors.
The paper, published in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, used what is called a choice-experiment survey. Respondents were provided with background information about stormwater management issues, then presented with different scenarios and asked to choose between them. The study included survey responses from 334 individuals in Chicago and 351 in Portland.
Ando and co-authors Catalina Londono Cadavid, Noehwah Netusil, and Bryan Parthum found that people are willing to make considerable contributions both in terms of time and money. For example, improved water quality is estimated to be worth about $280 a year per household. If flooding is cut in half, that benefit is estimated to be worth $300 a year. These amounts indicate how much people would be willing to pay in fees or taxes to obtain those specific benefits.
The study also showed that people may be willing to spend a considerable amount of time working to support these environmental features, especially if it directly benefits their local community.
( With inputs from ANI )