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Findings

The findings of our work provide lessons learned for watershed managers tasked with developing and implementing nutrient pollution strategies in watersheds impacted by nonpoint source pollution. While our complete findings and summary of our work can be found in the Final Report, here we provide a summary of our major findings learned through our research in our study watersheds. These can serve as a guide for stakeholders interested in developing solutions for their own watersheds.

 

The Magic of Shared Discovery

 

Scientists working collaboratively with watershed stakeholders through a shared discovery process is critical to developing a meaningful, actionable watershed management strategy linked to the concerns and goals of the local community.

 

The Power of Visual Narrative

 

Getting stakeholders interested and engaged in shared discovery from the outset is critical. To communicate nutrient pollution strategies, the best approaches are use of visualization tools and narrative to tell the story of the research and invite stakeholders stories to be told.  

 

Know Your Watershed

 

Even without the resources available for complex modeling, you can establish a good set of baseline conditions through a combination of best available data, ecological assessment, and stakeholder input.

 

Nutrient Flows and Balances

 

When it comes to nutrients, there are larger forces at play beyond the boundaries of a small watershed. Understanding the major drivers and trends of nutrient flows is important when developing nutrient pollution solutions.

 

The Right Practices in the Righ Places at the Right Time

 

Through our scenario process, we have learned many lessons on choosing the “right practice," the "right place" to put them, and the "right time" for certain management appplications.  

 

Solutions for Saving Costs

 

Our work revealed that placing the “right practice” in the “right place” at the “right time” can result in achieving overall nutrient reduction goals much cheaper than alternative approaches.

 

Bay vs. Local

 

There are important differences in meeting regional and local goals for water quality that must be understood in order to proposed solutions to meet both.

 

 

Transformative Solutions Can Transform 

 

The transformative scenarios we explored for the most part yielded transformative changes of the landscape and resulted in large reductions of nutrients or sediment pollution. Yet many of these solutions would require major shifts in policy or institutional systems that support agriculture, our economy and society, and thus may not be the most feasible solutions at this point in time.

 

 

Nutrient Pollution Solutions for Ecosystem Services

 

Depending on the tactics and strategies chosen, nutrient pollution solutions can enhance many other ecosystem services. We looked at how nutrient pollution measures impact carbon storage, flood storage and desynchronization, water purification and biodiversity, and water-based recreation.

 

 

Worth the Investment and Then Some

 

Our study of the value of ecosystem services generated from nutrient reductions indicated the benefits always outweigh the cost, in some cases dramatically so.