Valuing Lake Water Quality

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Award Year: 
2015
Principal Investigator: 
Bonnie Keeler, University of Minnesota
Spencer Wood, University of Washington

The explosion of geolocated social media provides a unique opportunity to assess how people respond to changes in environmental quality across spatial and temporal scales. These data can address gaps in our understanding of how environmental change affects human well-being. Here we propose to explore new methods for using photographs uploaded to the photo-sharing website Flickr to estimate the economic costs or benefits of changes in water quality. The focus of our project is the relationship between changes in lake quality and the behavior of lake recreationists. To meet this goal we propose the following activities:

  1. Extract and process information from geotagged Flickr photographs that will reveal users' home locations and patterns of lake visitation.
  2. Couple these data with existing information on water quality and other lake attributes across 17 U.S. states to understand how variation in lake quality affects the visitation patterns of lake users.
  3. Estimate the marginal value of changes in lake water quality using an economic model.

In addition to the above activities, our working group will develop and test new automated techniques to mine and process online data. Insights from this work can inform policy and management decisions by delivering information on how changes in land use, pollutant loads, or other drivers may affect the behavior and associated wellbeing of lake users.

Participants: 
Kendra Spence Cheruvelil, Michigan State University
Christopher Filstrup, Iowa State University
Dave Fisher, Stanford University
Robert Griffin, Stanford University
Yongjie Ji, Iowa State University
David Keiser, Iowa State University
Catherine Kling, Iowa State University
Patricia Soranno, Michigan State University
Eric Lonsdorf, University of Minnesota
Ryan Noe, University of Washington
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