Floodplains provide critical ecosystem services to people by regulating floodwaters and retaining sediments and nutrients. Geospatial analyses, field data collection, and modeling were integrated to quantify a portfolio of services that floodplains provide to downstream communities within the Chesapeake Bay and Delaware River watersheds. The portfolio of services included floodplain sediment and nutrient retention and flood regulation. Sediment and nutrient retention were quantified and valued for all non-tidal wadable streams in the Chesapeake Bay and Delaware River watersheds. Predicted nitrogen fluxes from measurements of streambanks and floodplain geomorphic changes were summarized at various scales (river basin, state, and county) and valued using a benefits transfer approach. Floodplain flood regulation services were assessed through a pilot study focused on the Schuylkill River watershed in the Delaware River watershed. Geospatial analysis and published flood frequency estimates were used to assess baseline and counterfactual (i.e., floodplain storage removed) scenarios. Flood regulation was valued using the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Hazus model to compare differences in structural damage to private residences under baseline and counterfactual scenarios. The estimated value of floodplain sediment and nutrient retention was \$223 million United States dollars (USD) per year in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and \$38 million USD per year in the Delaware River watershed. Sediment and nutrient retention benefits were offset by a streambank erosion cost of \$123 million and \$14 million USD annually in the Chesapeake and Delaware watersheds, respectively. In the Schuylkill River watershed floodplain flood regulation was valued at \$860,000 USD per year, with an additional \$7.2 million USD annually provided through floodplain sediment and nutrient retention. Together this portfolio of floodplain ecosystem services indicates that floodplains provide substantial benefits to people by trapping nutrients and storing floodwaters.
|Title||Societal benefits of floodplains in the Chesapeake Bay and Delaware River watersheds: Sediment, nutrient, and flood regulation ecosystem services|
|Authors||Kristina G. Hopkins, Jacqueline Sage Welles, Emily J. Pindilli, Gregory B. Noe, Peter Claggett, Labeeb Ahmed, Marina Metes|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Journal of Environmental Management|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||South Atlantic Water Science Center|