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(24a) Hidden Economic Impacts of Nutrient Runoff from Livestock Waste

Sampat, A., University of Wisconsin-Madison
Ruiz-Mercado, G., U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Zavala, V. M., University of Wisconsin-Madison
Livestock waste may cause soil quality detriment from the in-excess nutrients and acidification, air quality degradation from ammonia and methane emissions, and water pollution issues from nutrient and pathogens runoff to the water bodies, leading to eutrophication, algal blooms, and hypoxia [1-2]. Despite the significant environmental benefits of performing waste management for these organic materials, the recovery of value-added products from livestock waste is not a current practice due to the high investment costs required and the low market incentives for the products that are recovered [3]. In addition, the deployment of waste treatment technologies is also hindered by the difficulty to attribute an economic value to the social and environmental damages algae blooms impart.

In this talk, we present a methodology to quantify the impacts associated with harmful algae blooms in water bodies. Specifically, we quantify the economic loss in property values, loss in recreational benefits (such as swimming and fishing) and water cleanup costs. We use the change in Secchi depth (change in water quality) as the basis for our calculations. For the loss in property values, the hedonic analysis done by Dodds et al. [4] reveals a strong correlation between Secchi depth and the property values. We provide a modeling framework to integrate this analysis in a decision-making setting. The algae blooms can be toxic to human health, thus forcing frequent beach closures. We use statistical models [5, 6] such as the logistic regression and negative binomial models to estimate the loss in revenue related to swimming and fishing opportunities. In areas where the affected waterbody is a source for drinking water, clean up procedures such as alum treatment are required to make the water potable. We will present a holistic approach to account for these impacts and conduct simultaneous economic and environmental analysis for waste treatment. This approach can also account for mid-point indicators such as the primary energy and water footprint associated with waste treatment technologies.

Lastly, we will present a case study that highlights the effect of including these hidden economic impacts of phosphorus runoff on the overall decision-making for treatment of livestock waste in the Upper Yahara watershed region in the State of Wisconsin. Excessive amounts of phosphorus have accumulated in this area, primarily due to livestock manure and the heavy use of agricultural fertilizers. Rain and snow melt often wash these nutrients into waterways, which lead to the blue-green algae blooms in the Yahara lakes [7]. We observe that accounting the hidden economic impacts can activate an integrated waste management and valorization market [8] and help in achieving phosphorus balance within the study area. The state, tribes, and federal regulatory agencies can use this framework to develop regulatory and non-regulatory incentives for waste treatment that can help in achieving nutrient pollution reduction targets in an environmentally and economically sustainable manner.


[1] Burkholder, J., Libra, B., Weyer, P., Heathcote, S., Kolpin, D., Thorne, P. S., & Wichman, M. (2006). Impacts of waste from concentrated animal feeding operations on water quality. Environmental health perspectives, 115(2), 308-312.

[2] Aguirre-Villegas, H. A., & Larson, R. A. (2017). Evaluating greenhouse gas emissions from dairy manure management practices using survey data and lifecycle tools. Journal of cleaner production, 143, 169-179.

[3] Sampat, A. M., Ruiz-Mercado, G. J., & Zavala, V. M. (2018). Economic and Environmental Analysis for Advancing Sustainable Management of Livestock Waste: A Wisconsin Case Study. ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, 6(5), 6018-6031.

[4] Dodds, W. K., Bouska, W. W., Eitzmann, J. L., Pilger, T. J., Pitts, K. L., Riley, A. J., ... & Thornbrugh, D. J. (2008). Eutrophication of US freshwaters: analysis of potential economic damages.

[5] Vesterinen, J., Pouta, E., Huhtala, A., & Neuvonen, M. (2010). Impacts of changes in water quality on recreation behavior and benefits in Finland. Journal of Environmental Management, 91(4), 984-994.

[6] Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. (2012). Phosphorus reduction in Wisconsin water bodies: An economic impact analysis. Technical report, 2012.

[7] Water sustainability and climate in the Yahara Watershed. University of Wisconsin-Center for Limnology available at https://wsc.limnology.wisc.edu/about/watershed. (2018). [Online; accessed 23-July-2018].

[8] Sampat, A.M.; Hu, Y.; Sharara, M.; Aguirre-Villegas, H.; Ruiz-Mercado, G.; Larson, R.A.; and Zavala, V.M. (2018). Coordinated Markets for Scalable Management of Organic Waste and Derived Products. Under Review.