Integrating stakeholder values with multiple attributes to quantify watershed performance

Publication Date


Journal or Book Title



[1] Integrating stakeholder values into the process of quantifying impairment of ecosystem functions is an important aspect of watershed assessment and planning. This study develops a classification and prioritization model to assess potential impairment in watersheds. A systematic evaluation of a broad set of abiotic, biotic, and human indicators of watershed structure and function was used to identify the level of degradation at a subbasin scale. Agencies and communities can use the method to effectively target and allocate resources to areas of greatest restoration need. The watershed performance measure (WPM) developed in this study is composed of three major components: (1) hydrologic processes (water quantity and quality), (2) biodiversity at a species scale (core and priority habitat for rare and endangered species and species richness) and landscape scale (impacts of fragmentation), and (3) urban impacts as assessed in the built environment (effective impervious area) and population effects (densities and density of toxic waste sites). Simulation modeling using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT), monitoring information, and spatial analysis with GIS were used to assess each criterion in developing this model. Weights for attributes of potential impairment were determined through the use of the attribute prioritization procedure with a panel of expert stakeholders. This procedure uses preselected attributes and corresponding stakeholder values and is data intensive. The model was applied to all subbasins of the Chicopee River Watershed of western Massachusetts, an area with a mixture of rural, heavily forested lands, suburban, and urbanized areas. Highly impaired subbasins in one community were identified using this methodology and evaluated for principal forms of degradation and potential restoration policies and BMPs. This attribute-based prioritization method could be used in identifying baselines, prioritization policies, and adaptive community planning.









This document is currently not available here.