Economic valuation of groundwater in Texas

Economic valuation of groundwater in Texas

Groundwater is a strategic economic asset, and recent Texas Supreme Court decisions have strengthened private ownership rights in groundwater. Despite the economic and political stakes, debate on how to actually value groundwater has been sparse. In response, this article sets forth seven methods of economically valuing groundwater in Texas and uses case studies and hypotheticals informed by real data to assess the valuation techniques’ strengths and weaknesses under a range of conditions… Read more from the Texas Water Journal  

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Replacing Mother Nature Can Be Expensive

Replacing Mother Nature Can Be Expensive

“We take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude,” Dr. Tom Arsuffi stressed near the beginning of the most recent Texas Water Symposium. The panel discussion, moderated by Katherine Romans, Executive Director of the Hill Country Alliance, also brought together District 53 Rep. Andy Murr and Texas A&M researcher Hughes Simpson to discuss the preservation of natural assets. “We’re losing those free things that nature provides us,” Arsuffi continued, referring to everything from photosynthesis to healthy soils…

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Sprawl Costs Americans $107 Billion a Year, Says Study

Sprawl Costs Americans $107 Billion a Year, Says Study

Urban sprawl isn’t a new phenomenon. But new analysis from City Observatory has finally quantified the cost of building cities that make us travel farther between the places where we live, work, and play. They call it the “Sprawl Tax.” Based on numbers from a 2015 Brookings report, the new study found that commuters in the country’s 50 largest metro areas pay an additional $107 billion a year in travel costs and time navigating the sprawl between work and home—at…

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How much is the urban forest of Austin worth? More than you might think

How much is the urban forest of Austin worth? More than you might think

Trees within the city limits of Austin, Texas contribute nearly $34 million in ecosystem services to the community annually, according to a new report by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). From May to October 2014, researchers from the Texas A&M Forest Service collected data on characteristics like the size, species, and health of trees found on 206 one-sixth-acre plots scattered throughout Austin. They followed the protocols of the USFS Forest Inventory and Analysis program, which has collected information about the…

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The steep costs of living so far apart from each other

The steep costs of living so far apart from each other

In strictly economic terms, sprawl is inefficient. Spread people out, and it takes them longer to drive where they need to go, and it costs them more in gas money to get there. Disperse a few people over a lot of land, and that land is used inefficiently, too. Then give those people roads and sewers — you’d need a lot more of both to serve 20 households living over a square mile than 20 on the same block. And…

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The Value of a Healthy Hill Country

In a recent piece in the Upper Llano River Watershed Protection Plan Newsletter, Dr. Tom Arsuffi explores the value of a healthy, functioning Hill Country ecosystem. In a Texas that is increasingly urbanizing, how do we ensure that our urban centers properly value responsible land management that produces the clean water, resilient wildlife habitat, fresh air and healthy food resources we all need? A related article from High Country News explores the nuances of ecosystem services. It’s not as simple…

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Texas A&M Study Trumpets Texas State Parks’ Economic Benefit

“The take-away message from this study,” Dr. Crompton says, “should be that the state park system is an important contributor to the Texas economy, particularly in rural areas and that the state’s net investment in parks is returned many times over as visitors travel to enjoy the outdoors and leave their dollars behind.” Many of state’s most popular parks are right here in the Texas Hill Country. More from TPWD.

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Charting New Waters – Watershed payments make sense

Investing in land and rewarding landowners to take care of land is a smart investment for long-term water needs. Far less expensive than massive industrial infrastructure, taking care of water catchment areas (watersheds) will provide natural infrastructure for capturing, cleansing and storing the water we need for future generations. Learn more from the Ecosystem Market Place.

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A fiscal conservative’s manifesto against sprawl

“But, while my concern with sprawling growth patterns was rooted in their effect on the landscape, on the environment, and on severely compromised populations left behind, Chuck is all about the money. As Thoughts on Building Strong Towns makes quite clear, Chuck believes that sprawl is a Ponzi scheme and we the taxpayers are the ones left holding the empty bags.” More from Kaid Benfield.

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