Valuation of the flood attenuation ecosystem service in Difficult Run, VA, USA

Journal of Environmental Management
By: , and 

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Abstract

Floodplains and riparian wetlands provide several ecosystem services that directly benefit people. We present a methodology for valuing the flood attenuation ecosystem service in Difficult Run, a suburban watershed with extensive natural floodplains in northern Virginia. High-resolution lidar-derived data were combined with GIS modeling techniques to produce estimates of flood inundation. We combined the modeled estimates with parcel-level property and primary economic data using a baseline and a counterfactual scenario to estimate the magnitude of flood attenuation and the associated value of the ecosystem service. Our framework brings new models and data to look at floodplains and an alternative land surface scenario in a way that has not previously been done. Annualized avoided property losses totaled $42,184 in the baseline scenario and $115,596 in the counterfactual scenario for the combined 200-, 100-, 50-, 20-, 10-, and 5-year flood events. We estimate the total annualized value of the flood attenuation ecosystem service in Difficult Run is $73,412, which is $77 per hectare of floodplain area and is consistent with similar valuation studies of floodplains. The framework presented here is not specific to the study area and could be deployed at larger spatial areas in other locations. Our methods may better inform land use decision making on the impacts of development in and surrounding floodplain areas.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Valuation of the flood attenuation ecosystem service in Difficult Run, VA, USA
Series title Journal of Environmental Management
DOI 10.1016/j.jenvman.2018.10.023
Volume 231
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Science and Decisions Center
Description 9 p.
First page 1056
Last page 1064
Country United States
State Virginia
Other Geospatial Difficult Run watershed