Stormwater management (SWM) is today a major focus of environmental research across the nation. There is general recognition that reliance on “gray infrastructure” through the simple removal of stormwater via sewers fails to make cost-effective use of ecosystem services such as infiltration and evapotranspiration. Consequences include combined sewer overflows, higher stormwater management costs and ecosystem damage costs, as well as excessive nutrient flows to streams, rivers, and coastal waters. This has led to policy emphasis on green infrastructure to make use of ecosystem services to manage surface water flows and lower stormwater management costs.
There are a number of interesting interdisciplinary research topics in stormwater management for social scientists, planners, regional scientists, engineers, ecologists, geographers and others. Some of the current work in our laboratory is focused on analyzing economic incentives such as a stormwater retention credit trading program to motivate stormwater generators to install and maintain green infrastructure (GI), leading to increased cost-effectiveness of stormwater management through increased use of ecosystem services. We are interested also in how economic incentives for SWM would impact other environmental dimensions such as the urban heat island effect, urban heating and cooling loads, restoration of urban tree canopies and other quality of life issues such as traffic calming and, psychological well-being.
As concerns over climate change grow, the Office of Research and Development (ORD) in the USEPA has increased its attention to the social costs of alterations of local environments and ways to mitigate the effects of climate change. ORD has established an in-house research program in Safe and Sustainable Water Resources, an interdisciplinary program that is organized into four interrelated topics: Watershed Sustainability, Nutrients, Green Infrastructure, and Water Systems. It integrates economics, ecological management and engineering systems.
We seek a qualified economist or suitably trained scientist/social scientist to join the research team. Someone with a degree in another social science or ecology and familiar with microeconomics will be seriously considered. Quantitative and modeling skills are a must. Knowledge of the non-point source pollution control and familiarity with GIS would be a definite plus.
Thurston HW (ed): Economic Incentives for Stormwater Control, CRC Press: 2012
Stormwater management; Environmental economics; Pollution trading; Urban reforestation; Ecology; Ecosystem services;