Source: VIRGINIA POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE submitted to
COMMUNITY DECISIONS: COMMUNITY DECISION SUPPORT FOR INTEGRATED, ON-THE-GROUND NUTRIENT STRATEGIES
Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
TERMINATED
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Annual
Accession No.
0211564
Grant No.
2007-51130-18440
Project No.
VA-428352
Proposal No.
2007-03825
Multistate No.
(N/A)
Program Code
110.D
Project Start Date
Sep 1, 2007
Project End Date
Aug 31, 2012
Grant Year
2007
Project Director
Pease, J. W.
Recipient Organization
VIRGINIA POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE
(N/A)
BLACKSBURG,VA 24061
Performing Department
AGRI & APPLIED ECONOMICS
Non Technical Summary
High levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in watersheds pose risks to surface and ground water quality. Many planned strategies to prevent or reduce water quality problems due to nutrients consist primarily of combinations of Best Management Practices (BMPs) and Best Available Technologies (BATs), but these strategies may not reflect a systematic and science-based approach based on watershed nutrient inflows, outflows, and retention. Watershed planning is a collaborative process, but stakeholders may not have ready access to science-based information when they express their preferences for water quality. This project uses the concept of watershed nutrient mass flow (nutrient inflows, outflows, and retention) in an interactive decision support system to aid watershed planning by a stakeholder group. Graduate and undergraduate students will learn effectiveness and weaknesses of hard systems (computer modeling) and soft systems (conflict resolution) approaches. Watershed residents will be informed of nutrient mass flows affecting water quality in their region.
Animal Health Component
100%
Research Effort Categories
Basic
(N/A)
Applied
100%
Developmental
(N/A)
Classification

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
1120320205040%
1330320202030%
6056050301030%
Goals / Objectives
1) Develop the Community DECISIONS (Community Decision Support for Integrated, On-the-ground Nutrient Strategies) group decision aid; 2)Apply and assess Community DECISIONS collaboratively with the stakeholder group; 3)Develop and deliver education to university students in watershed decision planning tools and processes, and in watershed planning process evaluation; and 4)Demonstrate and train watershed citizens, Extension water quality professionals, and state/federal water quality program managers in use of the Community DECISIONS group decision aiding process.
Project Methods
The Community DECISIONS decision support system will consist of four integrated computer models: a watershed-scale nutrient mass inflow/outflow/retention simulation model, a nutrient treatment (BMPs and broader interventions) database, an algorithmic Analytic Hierarchy Process preference elicitation model, and a group interface that will access the the simulation, nutrient treatment, and preference modules to generate and display alternative watershed planning strategies. The DECISIONS model will be iteratively developed through researcher design and development, stakeholder group assessment and critique, and subsequent revision of algorithmic and usability functions. If successful, the process will result in consensus on a watershed management strategy.

Progress 09/01/07 to 08/31/12

Outputs
OUTPUTS: ACTIVITIES: 1. Focus Group, 1) refine stakeholder preferences to watershed outcomes and 2) relate candidate treatments to stakeholder preferences.Dec 2008,Jan 2009; 2. Focus Group, 1) further refine stakeholder preferences to watershed outcomes and 2) relate candidate treatments to stakeholder preferences.Dec 2008; 3.Focus Groups for Watershed Stakeholders to Select Desired Water Quality Improvement Practices, June 2010. EVENTS: 1.Workshop 1 on Objectives for Watershed Planning. 35 participants, March 2008; 2. Workshop 2 Feb 2009, 32 participants; ; 3. Watershed Stakeholders Select Desired Water Quality Improvement Practices, June,2010; DISSEMINATION: 1."Community Watershed Planning" presentation to Waste Solutions Forum, Oct 2008; 2. "Project organization" presentation to Virginia Waste Solutions Forum, April 2009; 3. "Alternatives for watershed planning". Presentation to Nutrient Subcommittee of Chesapeake Bay Program. April 2010; 4. "Alternatives for watershed planning". Presentation to Virginia Department of Environmental Quality administrators, May 2010. 5. Workshop 3, March 2011. PRODUCTS: 1. Nutrient treatment database containing all applicable BMPs and other practices to reduce nutrient losses in the watershed, their effectiveness in reducing nutrient losses, and annual costs of installing, operating, and maintaining the practice; 2. Integrated GIS/simulation software to simulate nutrient losses from all watershed areas GT 30m square, under baseline and BMP conditions, route nutrients through surface and groundwater pathways to watershed exit. Participants 35 watershed stakeholders, including farmers, environmental activists, local and state government officials, and concerned citizens formed the DECISIONS primary participant group. The Waste Solutions Forum, a public-private organization formed to solve water quality issues arising from animal agriculture, was our primary collaborator and sounding board. The Institute for Environmental Negotiation/University of Virginia was our contractor and collaborator for facilitation purposes. Our graduate students included 1 PhD whose research involved the project and 2 MSc whose research also involved the project. Target Audiences Our primary target audience was our group of 35 stakeholders who participated in at least 3 workshops during the project. The broader audience included local and state officials, farmers and watershed citizens through presentations and demonstrations.P PARTICIPANTS: 35 watershed stakeholders, including farmers, environmental activists, local and state government officials, and concerned citizens formed the DECISIONS primary participant group. The Waste Solutions Forum, a public-private organization formed to solve water quality issues arising from animal agriculture, was our primary collaborator and sounding board. The Institute for Environmental Negotiation/University of Virginia was our contractor and collaborator for facilitation purposes. Our graduate students included 1 PhD whose research involved the project and 2 MSc whose research also involved the project. TARGET AUDIENCES: Our primary target audience was our group of 35 stakeholders who participated in at least 3 workshops during the project. The broader audience included local and state officials, farmers and watershed citizens through presentations and demonstrations. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Not relevant to this project.

Impacts
The participants in this project learned watershed hydrology and spatial interdependence. They learned economic and environmental tradeoffs resulting from alternative water quality control strategies. This knowledge is being utilized by some participants who have agitated for consideration of such tradeoffs in the USEPA-driven Total Maximum Daily Load of 2010. The TMDL was an unfortunate block to successful completion of this project, because the DECISIONS' participant group chosen plan could not be implemented because it was overruled by the TMDL. The AAEC graduate students learned financial budgeting at the farm, business, and government unit level, mathematical programming for selection of tradeoffs between water quality protection and entity least costs or higher profits, and coordination of public meetings for citizen participation. Each student has drafted a journal article based on their findings (pending), and has successfully completed their MSc. The BSE graduate student accomplished integration of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and hydrologic simulation in varied landscapes of a watershed. A significant knowledge advance is being documented in a pending journal article documenting his modules' ability to quantitatively shed light on the importance of controls of nutrients in dispersed nutrient concentrations on sites close to waterways. The water quality and cost of targeting such sites is the subject of another pending publication. The student successfully completed his PhD. Scientists learned application of group preference elicitation of watershed stakeholder desirable outcomes. Scientists learned the complexities and time needed of being able to represent/simulate such preferences in quantitative models, and relied instead on a two-outcome system model simulating the relationship between social cost and nutrient loading at the watershed exit. Scientists learned that it is feasible but not simple to simulate hydrology and economic processes in a sizable watershed, although a long preparation time is needed and rapid turnaround within a real-time meeting with participants is not feasible. Scientist learned the difficulties of simulating hydrology in a watershed with many land uses and characterized by karst geology. Scientists learned that voluntary stakeholder chosen watershed plans acceptable across stakeholders of varying interests can be developed, but cannot be implemented if command-and-control legal actions are threatened.

Publications

  • Pease, J. 2011. "Ask the Expert" interview, Watershed Science Bulletin (Journal of the Association of Watershed and Stormwater Professionals (AWSPs)), Fall 2011, pp. 62-63, accessed at http://www.awsps.org/watershed-science-bulletin.html.
  • Bosch, D., J. Pease, M. Wolfe, C. Zobel, J. Osorio Leyton*, T. Denckla-Cobb, G. Evanylo. 2012. Community DECISIONS: Stakeholder Focused Watershed Planning, Journal of Environmental Management, 112: 226-232.
  • Osorio, J., M. L. Wolfe, C. Zobel, J. Pease, D.Bosch. 2012. DECISIONS model: A GIS-based tool for watershed nutrient planning. ASABE paper number 121337514, 2012 Dallas, Texas, July 29 - August 1, 2012, accessible at https://elibrary.asabe.org/techpapers.aspconfid=dall2012.
  • Dickhans, M. 2010. BMP cost and nutrient management effectiveness on typical beef and beef-poultry farms in Shenandoah County, Virginia. Master's thesis, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics. Blacksburg, Va.: University Libraries, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
  • Osorio, J. 2012. Assessment of SWAT to enable development of watershed management plans for agricultural dominated systems under data-poor conditions. PhD dissertation, Department of Biological Systems Engineering. Blacksburg, Va.: University Libraries, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
  • Dickhans M., D. Bosch, J. Pease, M. Wolfe. 2012. Cost effectiveness of conservation practices: Evidence from Virginia beef and poultry farms. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (pending).
  • Osorio, J., M. L., Wolfe, and C. Zobel. 2012. DECISIONS: Model description. Transactions of American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (pending).
  • Zobel, C., J. Osorio, and M. L., Wolfe. 2012. Automating GLEAMS with Excel and VBA. Environmental Modelling & Software (pending).
  • Wolfe, M.L., J. Osorio, D. Bosch, and J. Pease. 2012. Targeting Nutrient Management Practices to Improve Cost Effectiveness. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (pending).


Progress 09/01/10 to 08/31/11

Outputs
OUTPUTS: A proposal extending results of the current project was submitted to the National Science Foundation, but was not chosen for funding: D. Bosch, M.L. Wolfe, J. Pease, C. Zobel, E. Yagow. (2011) "Adapting to Uncertainty: Implementing Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Plans in Mid-Atlantic Watersheds," National Science Foundation, $1,499,286 Two presentations were made: 1) members of the Smith Creek Watershed Team (an NRCS model watershed) concerning planning with the DECISIONS methodology; and 2) representatives of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation concerning use of DECISIONS methodology with Chesapeake Bay TMDL planning. One all-day meeting was held with project stakeholders to demonstrate the DECISIONS software and its use in watershed planning. PARTICIPANTS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period. TARGET AUDIENCES: We discussed potential use of the DECISIONS methodology with state agency personnel, farmers, and other citizens who are engaged in an intensive small watershed restoration project as well as with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for possible application to the larger Chesapeake Bay watershed. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: An additional one-year no-cost extension was requested and received for this project. Additional suggestions from this year's meetings will be incorporated into the software.

Impacts
None reported during this period

Publications

  • Singh, Bibek B. (2011). Sector-targeting for controlling nutrient loadings: a case study of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River watershed. Masters thesis. Blacksburg, Va.: University Libraries, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
  • Pease, James W., Doug Parker, Alan Collins, Dave Hansen, Doug Beegle (2011). Regional Cropland Nutrient Budgets: Lessons Learned. Regional Poster of Excellence presented at USDA/NIFA National Water Conference 2011, accessible at http://www.usawaterquality.org/conferences/2011/regional/Proj_Excel.h tml


Progress 09/01/09 to 08/31/10

Outputs
OUTPUTS: A presentation on project development was made to the collaborating partner (Waste Solutions Forum), discussing the organization and development of the project. One focus group meeting was held with 16 watershed stakeholders with the objective to select types of pollution mitigation treatments to develop in the group decision support software. The database of Best Management Practices other practices to reduce nutrient losses in the watershed, their effectiveness in reducing nutrient losses, and annual costs of installing, operating, and maintaining the practice, was completed. PARTICIPANTS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period. TARGET AUDIENCES: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: A one-year no-cost extension was requested and received for this project. Project personnel continue to refine the nutrient accounting simulation software for use in the final project workshop, now scheduled for December 2010.

Impacts
None reported during this period

Publications

  • A. Arnette, C. Zobel, D. Bosch, J. Pease, T. Metcalfe. Stakeholder ranking of watershed goals with the vector analytic hierarchy process: Effects of participant grouping scenarios, Environmental Modelling & Software, Volume 25, Issue 11, November 2010, Pages 1459-1469


Progress 09/01/08 to 08/31/09

Outputs
OUTPUTS: A presentation on project development was made to the collaborating partner (Waste Solutions Forum), discussing the organization and development of the project. A presentation on project development was made to a stakeholder group (Nutrient Subcommittee of Chesapeake Bay Program), discussing development of the project and possible collaboration. Two focus group meetings with 17 watershed stakeholders with objectives 1) further refine stakeholder preferences to watershed outcomes and 2) relate candidate treatments to stakeholder preferences. Inputs by stakeholders permitted improved development of the watershed decision aid. Developed nutrient treatment database containing all applicable BMPs and other practices to reduce nutrient losses in the watershed, their effectiveness in reducing nutrient losses, and annual costs of installing, operating, and maintaining the practice. Completed initial prototype of watershed nutrient accounting simulation model to route nutrients in surface water through the watershed and estimate nutrient loss reductions possible from alternative spatial placement or type of land use treatment. Five students total (3 undergraduate and 2 graduate students) took an evaluation planning special study in conjunction with the work of the PIs. This special study is related to the grant objective of teaching students about program evaluation related to watershed planning and projects. Each student completed an evaluation plan based on the project, and 4 of the 5 attended a stakeholder meeting. PARTICIPANTS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period. TARGET AUDIENCES: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Development of the watershed decision aid software has been delayed over the past year due to complexity of the hydrology simulation over the 454,000 acre watershed. Considerable progress has been made, but decision aid development delays have required us to reschedule the watershed planning meeting with stakeholders until early 2010.

Impacts
Evaluation planning special study. Four of five students completed an online feedback form after the completion of the course. Three wrote the following under the comments section: "Agricultural and Extension Education 4984..was a very real world course which required me as a student to interact with watershed stakeholders and write program evaluations. I applied almost all of the skills that are now necessary as a graduate, in my first job as a Water Compliance Manager at US Navy base Dahlgren, in that single one credit course with Mrs. Boyd; and I consider it as the course which best prepared me for practical environmental engineering outside of a school setting." "Excellent class! I learned a lot of applicable skills that I will use in future fields of study." "A very unique class, in that it covered a point of view never expressed in other classes. For this reason alone it was very worthwhile."

Publications

  • Pease, James, Christopher Zobel, Andrew Arnette, Darrell Bosch, Todd Metcalfe, Mary Leigh Wolfe, Jactone Arogo Ogejo, Heather Boyd, Gregory Evanylo, Katharine Knowlton (2009). Community DECISIONS: Ranking Stakeholders' Goals for Watersheds Using the Vector Analytical Hierarchy Process, Proceedings of the 2009 USDA-CSREES National Water Conference "Research, Extension and Education for Water Quality and Quantity" February 8-12, 2009 St. Louis, MO (abstract).


Progress 09/01/07 to 08/31/08

Outputs
OUTPUTS: Contacted 72 government, business, and private citizen individuals to invite to first workshop, 38 participated in workshop. Held first workshop March 31 in Woodstock, VA. Disseminated information to participants concerning project objectives and procedures. Elicited participant preferences for future watershed attributes with Analytical Hierarchy Process. Developed conceptual model of watershed decision support software Completed first stage of AHP analysis In initial stages of BMP database development. PARTICIPANTS: The central partner organization is Virginia Waste Solutions Forum, a public/private collaboration that focuses on reducing water pollution from animal waste in the Shenandoah Valley. Individuals who have worked on the project during Year One include the following: Jim Pease, lead investigator, organizer, framework provider, assisted by graduate students Todd Metcalfe and Megan Farrell Dickhans; Mary Leigh Wolfe, co-PI, nutrient algorithm researcher, assisted by graduate student Javier Leighton Osorio; Jactone Ogejo, co-PI, BMP database developer assisted by graduate student Rana Roshdieh; Darrell Bosch, co-PI, preferences optimization model developer; Chris Zobel, co-PI, decisions model developer, assisted by graduate student Andrew Arnette; Greg Evanylo, co-PI, crop and soils expertise; Katharine Knowlton, co-PI, dairy and waste management expertise; Heather Boyd, co-PI, project evaluator; and Tanya Denckla-Cobb, facilitator of community meetings. TARGET AUDIENCES: Agricultural, forestry, point source, and urban stakeholders in the North Fork Shenandoah watershed form the target audiences. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

Impacts
Gained collaboration through six meetings with federal and state agencies, citizen groups and NGS to discuss project objectives and enlist collaboration. Collaboration requested and received from Waste Solutions Forum, Department of Conservation and Recreation, and Chesapeake Bay Program. This intermediary outcome -- awareness on the part of stakeholders and secured cooperation -- are necessary for later phases of the project.

Publications

  • Pease, J., Bosch, D., Wolfe, M.L., Ogejo, J., Zobel, C., Franz, N., Knowlton, K. and Evanylo, G. 2008. "Community DECISIONS: Community Decision Support for Integrated, On-the-ground Nutrient Strategies," USDA/CSREES National Water Conference, Reno, NV.(Published abstract)