Date of Award

12-2011

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Ecology and Environmental Sciences

Advisor

Kathleen P. Bell

Second Committee Member

Shaleen Jain

Third Committee Member

Brian McGill

Abstract

Landscape changes from residential development lead to altered surface water runoff patterns that may degrade water resources. Water resource managers often seek to mitigate these impacts, but policy choices are complicated by uncertainty regarding how alternative strategies influence future outcomes. Economic models provide a framework for quantifying the landscape effects of policies that influence landowner decisions. In this thesis we describe a method that links an econometric simulation model to a hydrologic model in order to estimate hydrologic outcomes of alternative management strategies. As an application of this method, we investigated how changes in a zoning regulation, minimum lot size, affects simulated residential construction and stormwater runoff in the city of Ellsworth, Maine, USA. We found that increasing minimum lot sizes in a lake watershed lead to decreases in simulated residential construction and stormwater runoff within the watershed. However, our model also predicted increased construction and runoff in neighboring watersheds not subject to the increased zoning restriction. With this investigation we demonstrated one way in which our model can be used to gauge impacts of alternative policies and also highlighted the importance of regional planning in water resource management.

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