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Multiobjective Watershed Management Support System for Spatial Allocation of Agricultural Conservation Practices


The objective of the research portion of the proposed effort is to develop and validate a multiobjective watershed management support system to identify near optimal watershed plans that reduce sediment, nutrient, and pesticide deliveries at a watershed outlet to below regulatory or target values at the lowest cost.<P> The objective of the outreach component is to engage watershed stakeholders in a participatory process of tool development, implementation, and dissemination that results in measurable behavior by watershed planners. <P>The objective of the educational component of the proposed work is to develop and disseminate educational materials to describe the basic concepts and application of the MOWMSS for use in upper level undergraduate and graduate student courses.

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Non-Technical Summary: Current approaches to targeting selection and locations for implementation of conservation practices are limited because they can not accommodate environmental, economic, and institutional criteria simultaneously. This project will develop a tool that enhances stakeholdersAE capacity to identify the optimal set of conservation practices and their spatial placement within a watershed. <P> Approach: This project will develop a tool that enhances stakeholders' capacity to identify the optimal set of conservation practices and their spatial placement within a watershed. The tool is an optimization engine that incorporates multiple environmental, economic, and institutional factors to systematically search for an optimal set of best management practices (BMPs) within a watershed. Application of the tool will be tested by means of pilot studies in three Indiana watersheds where sediment, nutrients, and/or pesticides are major water quality concerns. The usefulness of such tools is ultimately a function of the willingness of watershed managers and engineers along with regional planners to utilize them in design and implementation of watershed conservation practices. We have adopted an integrated process based on participation of watershed stakeholders in development and dissemination of the proposed tool. We will impart knowledge to stakeholders by empowering them to apply the tool, and by enhancing their understanding of the interaction between water quality and economic factors in designing conservation practices. Stakeholders will impart knowledge to us by challenging our assumptions in defining BMP allocation problems, barriers to BMP adoption, and providing feedback on project results. We contemplate that enhanced stakeholder understanding of economic and water quality factors in BMP allocation problems will lead to measurable changes in their behavior, which will be documented by means of knowledge assessment at various stages of the project. Educational materials and outreach materials for the optimization tool will be developed and tested within a course and workshops within the study watersheds. Three national workshops will be conducted to disseminate the MOWMSS and these materials among watershed managers, engineers, and educators.

Engel, Bernie
Purdue University
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