The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Groundwater resource planning to preserve streamflow: Where environmental amenity meets economic welfare loss

TitleGroundwater resource planning to preserve streamflow: Where environmental amenity meets economic welfare loss
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsWan J, Yang Y-CEthan, Lin Y-FF, Wang J
JournalJournal of Water Resources Planning and Management
Start Page440
Date Published07/2013
KeywordsGenetic algorithm, Multiobjective optimization, Spatial planning, Stream depletion, Tradeoffs

Streams and their associated biological communities are among our most valuable natural resources. Humans rely on the environmental services provided by streams in a myriad of ways. However, in some areas, excessive groundwater pumping exacerbates the already critical pressure on streamflow and must be managed through effective planning. Based on economic and hydrogeological concepts, this study estimates the quantity of streamflow depletion that is attributable to groundwater pumping and the negative impact on the socioeconomic system if groundwater pumping must be constrained to restore streamflow. The primary objective of this paper is to develop a multiobjective nonlinear optimization model to simulate the tradeoffs between streamflow restoration and economic welfare loss in a Chicago suburban county, McHenry County. The multiobjective optimization was conducted at both county and municipality levels. An evolutionary algorithm, the nondominated sorting genetic algorithm, was used to solve the optimization model and to identify the tradeoff curve (Pareto frontier). Comparing municipal Pareto frontiers shows spatially heterogeneous costs of preserving streamflow through various shadow prices and also the different capacities of restoring streamflow. The results include discussion of the shapes of the Pareto frontier, the sensitivity of the pumping boundary constraints, and return flow coefficients. It is concluded that the multiobjective optimization model provides a useful framework to consider conflicting objectives in a typical environmental management and planning process, and that the findings can help decision-makers and planners to formulate effective groundwater pumping strategies.