Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2013DE254B

Sustainable Management of Water and Ecosystem Services on a Residential Landscape in Delaware

Institute: Delaware
Year Established: 2013 Start Date: 2013-03-01 End Date: 2014-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $1,500 Total Non-Federal Funds: $3,000

Principal Investigators: Joshua Duke, Megan Murray

Abstract: Residential landowners substantively affect water quality and portions of the landscape in many areas of Delaware. Yet, residential landowners make land management decisions that are largely (perhaps, entirely) free from government regulations protecting water quality. For instance, residential landowners unilaterally select most plantings, apply most nutrients, and establish impervious cover without accounting for the impacts experienced by others living outside the parcel boundaries. Very few regulations affect these decisions, and the regulations that do exist are difficult to enforce (such as lawn fertilizer application directions on a bag or fertilizer). The cumulative water quality impacts of these numerous residential decisions is likely significant. Yet, current policy has no solutions to offer and little research exists to inform the impacts of these decisions. Despite these challenges, a relatively simple policy (described below) could incentivize more sustainable practices. This project seeks to uncover some of the data needed to construct this policy. Recently UD faculty Drs. Barton, Bruck, Duke, Inamdar, and Tallamy had undertaken a large USDA funded research project to examine sustainable landscape management practices at Winterthur Museum and Gardens and demonstrate those practices at a site in the Greenville area of Delaware. Part of this grant work involved an examination of the economics of landowner property management choices by studying the landowners benefits and costs of each management practice employed. This includes the actual costs for establishing and managing a sustainable residential landscape. Let this unit of analysis be termed parcel X, which is an actual parcel where Drs. Barton and Bruck conducted a landscape change in 2012. What is missing from this research is how neighbors and other receive benefits and costs from parcel X.