Reprinted from International Journal of Sediment Research, Vol. 13, No. 4, Dec. 1998, p. 12-24.
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Economic Considerations of a Continental Sediment-Monitoring Program

W.R. Osterkamp, P. Heilman, and L.J. Lane

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 X 109 annually. In comparison, the annual cost of the proposed monitoring is estimated to be $ 4 X 106. 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% reduction in sediment-related damage would exceed the cost of the proposed monitoring program by as much as 40 times.

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