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Watershed Management

Introduction | Environmental Issue or Problem | Research Approach |
Clients and Collaborators
| Projects | Selected Publications | Contact


Sustainable watershed management research integrates social and scientific research in order to formulate pollution control policies that may be easier to implement and sustain. The research approaches ecosystem restoration and management in a way that offers an alternative to, or augmentation of, traditional regulatory oversight. Projects involve green infrastructure stormwater management, nutrient control, and ecological and water quality monitoring in rural and urban settings.

Environmental Issue or Problem

The management of water in the United States faces many challenges. Forty percent of U.S. waters are heavily polluted. In addition, aquifers are being depleted and the loss of natural wetlands has accelerated. The United States also faces the challenge of aging water infrastructure. There are approximately 240,000 water main breaks per year and up to 75,000 sanitary sewer overflows resulting in the discharge of 3 to 10 billion gallons of untreated wastewater. This results in approximately 5,500 annual illnesses due to exposures to contaminated recreational waters. These are just some of the problems that call for sustainable and innovative solutions in order to meet rural and urban communities' needs.

Research Approach

Researchers use adaptive management and green infrastructure, as well as hydrologic, economic, ecological, and soil studies, to help urban and rural communities sustainably manage their resources. Some of the technical activities within this area are focused on using economic incentives (such as reverse auctions and trading) to promote watershed management using green infrastructure (such as rain gardens, rain barrels, and swales) in urban watersheds, and the use of water quality trading to control nutrients in rural watersheds.


Environmental Economics for Watershed Restoration: Valuation for Non-Economists (EPA/600/F-12/509) February 2012

Clients and Collaborators

Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District

Slavic Village Community Development Corporation

U.S. Geological Survey

Ohio EPA

U.S. Department of Justice

Ohio State University

Emory University

Cleveland Botanical Garden

Cleveland Metroparks

Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District

Hamilton County Engineers Office

Cincinnati Health Department

Cincinnati Metropolitan Sewer District

Cincinnati Parks

EPA Region 5

EPA Region 5 Central Regional Laboratory

U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resource Conservation Service


Selected Publications

Benson, M.H. and A.S. Garmestani. (2011). "Embracing Panarchy, Building Resilience, and Integrating Adaptive Management Through a Rebirth of the National Environmental Policy Act." Journal of Environmental Management, 92: 1420–1427.

Shuster, W.D., A. Barkasi, P. Clark, et al. (2011). "Moving Beyond the Udorthent – A Proposed Protocol for Surveying Urban Soils to Service Data Needs for Contemporary Urban Ecosystem Management." Soil Survey Horizons, Spring.

Thurston, H.W. (ed.). (2011). Economic Incentives for Stormwater Control. Taylor and Francis, Boca Raton, FL.


Hale Thurston

Risk Management Research: Air & Climate Change Research | Water Research | Ecosystems Restoration Research | Land Research | Technology Research: Sustainable Technology | Environmental Technology Verification Program (ETV) | Technology Assessments

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