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Evaluation of the effectiveness of conservation practices under implementation site uncertainty

Abouali, Mohammad, Nejadhashemi, A. Pouyan, Daneshvar, Fariborz, Herman, Matthew R., Adhikari, Umesh, Calappi, Timothy J., Selegean, James P.
Journal of environmental management 2018 v.228 pp. 197-204
best management practices, conservation practices, conservation programs, hydrologic models, nonpoint source pollution, pollution control, program planning, uncertainty, water quality, United States
Agricultural nonpoint source pollution is the leading source of water quality degradation in United States, which has led to the development of programs that aim to mitigate this pollution. One common approach to mitigating nonpoint source pollution is the use of best management practices (BMPs). However, it can be challenging to evaluate the effectiveness of implemented BMPs due to polices that limit data sharing. In this study, the uncertainty introduced by data sharing limitations is quantified through the use of a watershed model. Results indicated that BMP implementation improved the overall water quality in the region (up to ∼15% pollution reduction) and that increasing the area of BMP implementation resulted in higher pollution reduction. However, the model outputs also indicated that uncertainty caused by data sharing limitations resulted in variabilities ranging from −160% to 140%. This shows the importance of data sharing among agencies to better guide current and future conservation programs.