Nav: Home

Online photos provide evidence for the value of clean water

February 03, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (2/3/15) - Think of the last time you planned a visit to a lake. Why did you choose the lake you did? Did you consider the quality of the water? The answers to these questions are critical to understanding how lake users make decisions about their recreation choices and the value society places on water resources.

New research published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment presents a novel approach to calculating the value of clean water. Analyzing photos posted to the online photo-sharing site Flickr, researchers at the Natural Capital Project and Iowa State University found Minnesota and Iowa lakes with greater water quality receive more visits than dirtier lakes, and that users are willing to travel farther to visit those clean, clear lakes.

The traditional approach to gathering lake visitation data would be through expensive and time-consuming surveys, asking people where they recreate and why. In this study, the researchers used online photographs taken of lakes that were uploaded to Flickr and could easily be analyzed with minimal expense. The researchers used this information, along with spatial analysis techniques and models, to estimate the values users place on lakes.

"The photos tell us a story about what lakes people prefer, where they live, and how far they travel to visit different lakes" said Bonnie Keeler, co-author and lead scientist with the Natural Capital Project at the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment.

As the authors note, there are many lakes and rivers that are impaired and efforts to restore or improve water quality can be expensive. This study offers one approach to capturing the value of water quality improvements -- information that can inform cost benefit assessments and better targeting of restoration investments. The study is also valuable because it underscores the potential for social-media data to inform social-ecological research.
-end-
The Natural Capital Project is a partnership combining research innovation at the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment and Stanford University with the global reach of conservation science and policy at The Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund.

University of Minnesota

Related Clean Water Articles:

Study: How climate change threatens mountaintops (and clean water)
A first-of-its kind study, in the journal Nature, explored seven mountain ecosystems around the globe and concludes they all may be threatened by climate change due to the decoupling of key nutrient cycles in mountain soils and plants.
New LEDs may offer better way to clean water in remote areas
For the first time, researchers have created light-emitting diodes (LEDs) on lightweight flexible metal foil.
Water, water -- the two types of liquid water
There are two types of liquid water, according to research carried out by an international scientific collaboration.
Clean water-treatment option targets sporadic outbreaks
Environmental and biomedical engineer David Wendell, an associate professor in the University of Cincinnati's College of Engineering and Applied Science, developed a protein-based photocatalyst that uses light to generate hydrogen peroxide to eliminate E. coli, Listeria, and potentially protozoa like giardia and cryptosporidium from drinking water.
Indigenous Health Conference Tackles Clean Water, Social Determinants of Health
The University of Toronto's Faculty of Medicine, Continuing Professional Development is hosting the 2nd Biennial Indigenous Health Conference at the Hilton Meadowvale, May 26-27, 2016.
More Clean Water News and Clean Water Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Teaching For Better Humans
More than test scores or good grades — what do kids need to prepare them for the future? This hour, guest host Manoush Zomorodi and TED speakers explore how to help children grow into better humans, in and out of the classroom. Guests include educators Olympia Della Flora and Liz Kleinrock, psychologist Thomas Curran, and writer Jacqueline Woodson.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#534 Bacteria are Coming for Your OJ
What makes breakfast, breakfast? Well, according to every movie and TV show we've ever seen, a big glass of orange juice is basically required. But our morning grapefruit might be in danger. Why? Citrus greening, a bacteria carried by a bug, has infected 90% of the citrus groves in Florida. It's coming for your OJ. We'll talk with University of Maryland plant virologist Anne Simon about ways to stop the citrus killer, and with science writer and journalist Maryn McKenna about why throwing antibiotics at the problem is probably not the solution. Related links: A Review of the Citrus Greening...