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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Economic Considerations of a Continental Sediment-Monitoring Program 1010

Authors
item Osterkamp, W - USGS
item Heilman, Philip
item Lane, Leonard

Submitted to: International Journal of Sediment Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 5, 1998
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Sediment and associated contaminants pose a potential threat to engineering structures, ecosystems and human health. Because sediment monitoring is not coordinated nationally or internationally, the scientific understanding and social benefits resulting from sediment monitoring are less than they might be. The economics of a program which would coordinate and systematize sediment monitoring between the United States, Mexico and Canada are explored. The annual cost of the proposed program, in addition to the cost of existing sediment monitoring programs, is estimated to be $4 million. The estimated annual sediment damage in the three countries is $16 billion. For the economic benefit of the sediment monitoring program to exceed its cost, the information provided by the program would have to result in a reduction of a very small proportion of current sediment damage.

Technical Abstract: Coordinated sediment monitoring for North America is proposed to identify continental-scale sediment yields, fluxes of sorbed contaminants, and trends in the fluxes of sediment and sorbed loads. The program is designed to monitor storage of nonpoint-source pollutants in bottomlands. Canada, the United States, and Mexico presently conduct limited-scope sediment monitoring, but because their programs emphasize specific, local problems, are not coordinated, and lack network design and objectives, they are inadequate to identify and address damage due to large-scale sediment discharges. The program advocated here incorporates continental-scale integrated objectives and management strategies for effective data collection and analysis. Physical, chemical, and biological sediment damage in North America may exceed $16 billion annually. In comparison, the annual cost of the proposed monitoring is estimated to be $4 million. If information derived from a monitoring program leads to efforts for abatement using multiobjective decision-support technology, results may be reductions in nonpoint-source pollution and overall social costs. A 1.0- percent reduction in erosion damages may exceed the cost of the proposed monitoring by as much as 40 times.

Last Modified: 12/18/2014
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