Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2019IN098B

Impacts of urban ecosystem services on human health and water quantity and quality in Northwestern Indiana communities: An unexplored opportunity to study service accessibility

Institute: Indiana
Year Established: 2019 Start Date: 2019-06-01 End Date: 2020-05-31
Total Federal Funds: $15,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $33,200

Principal Investigators: Brady S. Hardiman

Abstract: Accessibility of ecosystem services is the potential to reach and benefit from the goods and services humans obtain from nature. Accessibility is not well understood due to the complex factors influencing dynamic linkages between service provisioning and consumption. To enable a more robust characterization of accessibility, we propose to study a subset of well- understood services: the hydrologic ecosystem services. Hydrologic services, like flooding and erosion control, result from the influence of terrestrial ecosystem processes on hydrologic systems. Vegetation losses can impair the supply of these services, impacting the health and wellbeing of local communities. Urban communities like those in Northwestern Indiana, part of the third largest metropolitan region in the country, are especially vulnerable to losses of hydrologic services provided by urban vegetation. Assessment of service provisioning and consumption in these communities is incomplete, particularly the social dimensions of accessibility. We propose to address this need using a mixed methods approach to assessing accessibility: combining findings from an ongoing spatial study looking at service distribution in the Chicago region (including three Northwestern Indiana counties) with survey results on community feedbacks and hydrologic service accessibility in Northwestern Indiana. Doing so will improve characterization of accessibility and provisioning-consumption dynamics in the area. The dissemination of findings (through an online platform) will help local land managers and policy makers identify and prioritize management practices that enhance the provisioning and consumption of hydrologic ecosystem services and, thus, community health and wellbeing.