The research topic that this article will explain is the Economics of Green Infrastructure. Green infrastructure refers to the practice where various activities carried out by the people of a community rely on nature protection and conservation. Most of the infrastructural facilities in such a community are designed in a way that ensures that the environment is well protected by the activities involved. To understand the aspect of environmental economics in green infrastructure, it is important that we first know what economics is and how it applies to the natural environment. Economics refers to the study of how limited resources are allocated in a way that maximizes the output from the resources. Economics study can focus on business, institution or an environment. Application of the principles of economics in utilization and management of the natural resources is what is known as the environmental economics. The natural resources are usually scarce and unevenly distributed. A society, therefore, needs to manage how it utilizes the resources in a way that benefits it financially without depleting the resources or causing adverse environmental effects. In this research by the Environmental Protection Agency, the main focus was on how the green infrastructure system can be used to reduce storm water runoff.
How the topic relates to environmental economics
To be able to implement the Green Infrastructure policy, the costs involved must first be calculated. The implementing agency needs to be sure of the initial budget needed to reduce the storm water runoff and the opportunity costs that might be incurred during the process. Environmental economics, therefore, applies when there are various methods available that can yield different results at different costs. The agency will obviously decide on the design that will minimize the costs applicably and give a sustainable result.
Environmental protection activities might also result in an unwanted result on another system. For example, in an attempt to reduce flooding by the storm waters by running them off into rivers, environmental pollution can occur especially if the water carried water or soil pollutants (Strickman & Mitchell, 2017). The environmental economists must first consider all the possible effects of choosing a particular protection design and ensure that it does not impact negatively on the other environmental aspects.
Sources of Data
The aim of the research is to find the best possible way of reducing the storm water runoff. The water runoffs have a negative impact on the environment because it can spread polluting agents like the fertilizers, pesticides and metal fragments into the water sources. During the research, various data will be collected from many resources to help in coming up with the best recommendations.
The first source involves physical examination and observation. To be able to have the first-hand information, a group of researchers will have to visit the water storms from the ice precipitations and areas where the rainwater cannot be drained into the soil. The waters tend to find ways through which they can flow into the nearby water bodies like the lakes and rivers. It will be important to examine their flow ways and the possible contaminants the flowing waters pick. Interviewing the people living or working on the research site will also provide the necessary information. The final source of data will by employing the economists to calculate the associated costs of reducing the runoff using the available methods and to also assess the legality of the practices.
It is evident that different methods will need different budgets. For example, building a brick runway for the storm water will cost differently from redirecting the water into a plantation. Even though it might be cheaper to direct the water to a nearby plantation, some waters can have contaminants such as heavy metals and chemicals that can destroy the plants or even cause diseases to consumers of the plants. In such a case, it will be illegal to choose such destruction over the cheaper cost (Wild, Henneberry & Gill, 2017).
In a case where the water is free from harmful chemicals, building an irrigation channel can be more expensive when compared to the other methods, but it has an additional benefit of providing water for irrigation. The method will thus be the most economical one in the long run.
- Strickman, R. J., & Mitchell, C. P. J. (2017). Methylmercury production and accumulation in urban stormwater ponds and habitat wetlands. Environmental Pollution, 221, 326-334.
- Wild, T. C., Henneberry, J., & Gill, L. (2017). Comprehending the multiple ‘values’ of green infrastructure–Valuing nature-based solutions for urban water management from multiple perspectives. Environmental research, 158, 179-187.