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Environmental Analysis

Water Scarcity and Pollution in Major Indian Watersheds

Balakrishnan, Ashwin ('09);  Major, Ajay ('10);  Hazlett, Richard;  Palanisami, K.*;  Mohan, Vanita**;  Bhandra Mishra, Veer***;  Babu, Suresh****;  Antala, Shamjibhai*****
* Tamil Nadu Agricultural University;  ** Pricol Corp. and Siruthuli;  *** Benares Hindu University;  **** Center for Science and Environment;  ***** Saurashtra Lok Manch

I traveled for two months in India to learn about water scarcity and pollution problems in the Noyyal River Basin of Tamil Nadu, the Ganga River Basin in North India, and the arid regions of Western Gujarat. Given the cultural and geographical diversity of the subcontinent, my research does not depict the full range of water problems India faces;  however, I focused on common problems throughout India such as groundwater shortages, river pollution, and political tensions over water rights. I utilized the resources of Indian universities and filmed interviews with activists, government officials, farmers, and people affected by water problems. Groundwater depletion is a threatening problem in both Tamil Nadu and Gujarat. India’s rivers do not have sufficient water to meet demands. As a result, two thirds of agriculture is dependent on groundwater. Mass rainwater harvesting movements were spearheaded by activists and government agencies in both regions and raised the water table significantly.
Funding provided by: Schultz Environmental Studies Award

Hedonic Price Analysis Applied to Residential Property Sales Multinomah County, Oregon

Kadish, Jonathan ('10);  Hazlett, Richard;  Netusil, Noelwah*
*Economics Dept., Reed College, Portland, OR

This study uses the hedonic price method to estimate the relationship between vegetation and the sale price of single-family residential properties sold in Multnomah County, Oregon between 2005 and 2007. In Portland, increased impervious surface area and a combined sewer system force the city to periodically dump untreated waste into the Willamette River. Encouraging homeowners to increase vegetation on their property may help mitigate this problem. However, the existing literature shows mixed results for the relationship between vegetation and property values. Preliminary results using a semi-log functional form suggest that vegetation within 200 meter, _ mile, and _ mile buffers of a property contributes positively to price, while the effect of vegetation which is on the property is uncertain. Understanding how vegetation both on and around a property is capitalized into the sale price will be helpful for designing future policies about open spaces, stormwater runoff, and habitat restoration.Funding provided by: Schultz Environmental Studies Award

Soil Ecology at the Firestone Center for Restoration Ecology, Costa Rica

Mahlab, Sarah ('09);  Hazlett, Richard;  Wright, Jonathan

The purpose of this study is to examine how physical properties, chemical properties and invertebrate communities vary in soils of different land use histories in the rainforests in western Costa Rica. The study investigats eight different habitats, including primary forest, secondary forest, banana plantation, bamboo habitats, recovering pasture and recently grazed pasture. Moisture content, soil bulk density, relative particle size, color, pH, soil compaction, depth of the organic layer, concentrations of many nutrients and trace elements, and invertebrate abundance and diversity in the litter and the soils were measured at each site. It was found that pH was highest in the primary forest and lowest in the recovering pasture, the thick bamboo had the highest moisture content and soil bulk density was greatest in the recovering pasture. Much more diversity was found in invertebrates in the leaf litter in the primary forest while there was no major difference in invertebrate diversity in the soil in each habitat. In general, there was less variation between habitats than expected.
Funding provided by: Schultz Environmental Studies Award

Vicuña Conservation and Management in Souther Perú

Ort, Paul Keller ('09);  Bolton, Ralph

The endangered vicuña is a wild South American camelid related to the alpaca. In Perú, the vicuña is managed by campesino communities under a “conservation through use” program that allows live-shearing and marketing of fiber. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the implications of Peruvian conservation policy for both the vicuña and local communities. In eight weeks of field work, the author visited six rural communities in Southern Perú at altitudes of 3800-4700m to conduct interviews with conservation committees and observe management practices. Peruvian vicuña conservation has so far proven successful - raising rural incomes and protecting vicuñas from illegal poaching - but the future of the vicuña and the integrity of local management is threatened by unclear conservation objectives and a lack of support from government agencies, universities, or NGOs. The results of this study will be used in a forthcoming analysis of a proposed community vicuña repopulation project.
Funding provided by: The Craddock-McVicar Award

Research at Pomona