This research assessed the costs and benefits of six recent stream restoration projects in Richmond, Virginia within the context of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (CB TMDL) pollutant reduction requirements. In order to meet these requirements, state and local governments promoted stream restoration as an important way to reduce Bay-wide inputs of nitrogen, phosphorus, and total suspended solids. The overall intention of this paper was to holistically evaluate the risks and positive impacts associated with stream restoration, with a focus on Little Westham Creek, a stream restoration project located on the University of Richmond campus. I hypothesized that Little Westham Creek provides the lowest cost per unit of pollutant removal relative to the other five projects studied. A cost benefit analysis of total budget estimates and annual reduction estimates of nitrogen, phosphorus, and total suspended solids was used to determine which of the six projects provides the lowest cost per unit of pollutant removal. The Little Westham Creek stream restoration project yielded the lowest cost per unit of pollutant removal. This cost benefit analysis was used as a starting point for evaluating the costs and benefits of stream restoration, as a more holistic analysis of stream restoration projects was explored from an ecosystem services perspective. The value of key ecosystem services connected to stream restoration was explained, both from an eco-centric and anthropocentric point of view. Finally, suggestions for improvements to future stream restoration projects and other Bay-wide water quality improvement initiatives were presented based on past successes and failures in the six stream restoration projects studied.

Paper prepared for the Environmental Studies Senior Seminar.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Todd Lookingbill

Document Type

Unpublished Paper

Publication Date