SEGS Research: Water Quality


  • Water quality in Lake Champlain is an important priority of the State’s residents and government. SEGS lab research has covered topics such as Vermonters’ willingness to pay for water quality improvement, farmers’ willingness to implement best management practices such as planting buffer zones between crop fields and waterways, and agricultural practice adaptation to climate change.

  • Publications

  • Coupled impacts of climate and land use change across a river–lake continuum: insights from an integrated assessment model of Lake Champlain’s Missisquoi Basin, 2000–2040

    Asim Zia, Arne Bomblies, Andrew W Schroth, Christopher Koliba, Peter D F Isles, Yushiou Tsai, Ibrahim N Mohammed, Gabriela Bucini, Patrick J Clemins, Scott Turnbull, Morgan Rodgers, Ahmed Hamed, Brian Beckage, Jonathan Winter, Carol Adair, Gillian L Galford, Donna Rizzo and Judith Van Houten

    Environmental Research Letters, 11(2016) 11426

    Open PDF

    Global climate change (GCC) is projected to bring higher-intensity precipitation and higher- variability temperature regimes to the Northeastern United States. The interactive effects of GCC with anthropogenic land use and land cover changes (LULCCs) are unknown for watershed level hydrological dynamics and nutrient fluxes to freshwater lakes. Increased nutrient fluxes can promote harmful algal blooms, also exacerbated by warmer water temperatures due to GCC. To address the complex interactions of climate, land and humans, we developed a cascading integrated assessment model to test the impacts of GCC and LULCC on the hydrological regime, water temperature, water quality, bloom duration and severity through 2040 in transnational Lake Champlain’s Missisquoi Bay. Temperature and precipitation inputs were statistically downscaled from four global circulation models (GCMs) for three Representative Concentration Pathways. An agent-based model was used to generate four LULCC scenarios. Combined climate and LULCC scenarios drove a distributed hydrological model to estimate river discharge and nutrient input to the lake. Lake nutrient dynamics were simulated with a 3D hydrodynamic-biogeochemical model. We find accelerated GCC could drastically limit land management options to maintain water quality, but the nature and severity of this impact varies dramatically by GCM and GCC scenario.
  • Research on Adaptation to Climate Change: 2013 Water Quality Survey

    Koliba, C., Zia, A., Scheinert, S. and Logan, K.

    2015 RACC Retreat. VT EPSCoR

    Open PDF

    Oriented toward the policy and governance implications of climate change on water quality of the Lake Champlain Region, the 2013 RACC Water Quality Survey seeks to understand Vermonters’ attitudes toward, and awareness of, water quality, climate change, and individual and social responsibility for both.
  • Vermonters’ Willingness to Pay for Water Quality

    Scheinert, S., Zia, A., Koliba, C., and Kujawa, R.

    2014 RACC Retreat. VT EPSCoR.

    Open PDF

    A recent report by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources has indicated that approximately $156 million is needed annually for the next ten years for the State of Vermont to meet its obligations under the Clean Water Act, though confidence has declined in this estimate. Recent public opinion polling indicates that the most publicly- acceptable means for raising funds are through one-time development fees and annual stormwater fees. Further polling indicates that the median willingness to pay among Vermont households is $40 per year, when raised through water utility and vehicle registration fees. The polling also suggests that willingness to pay could be increased through outreach and education.
  • Isomorphic Properties of Network Governance: Comparing Two Watershed Governance Initiatives in the Lake Champlain Basin Using Institutional Network Analysis

    Koliba, C., Reynolds, A., Zia, A., and Scheinert, S.

    2015. Complexity, Governance & Networks. 1(2). 99–118.

    In this paper a comparison of the two planned networks that appear in watershed planning documents for the Lake Champlain basin in 2010. One plan (2010 TMDL) was developed by a regulatory network initiated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and state legislature. The second plan (2010 OFA) was developed by a watershed partnership network spanning the governmental, nonprofit, and business sectors. This paper asks if these two planning networks reify themselves in the plans they create? The extent to which the structural and functional properties of the networks in this study are mirrored in the plans that they produce is measured. Using textual data mining techniques and institutional network analysis the authors examine measures of network centrality, develop a visual analysis of network structures and clusters, and examine statistical comparisons of the task structures found across the two planned networks. Institutional isomorphism theory is used to anticipate and explain any mirroring effects observed in the data. A comparison of policy tool identification, actor characteristics, and task structures for each plan is rendered. Findings suggest evidence of structural isomorphism, but not policy tool isomorphism occurring between the two planning regimes and possible explanations for these findings are given.
  • The Shape of Watershed Governance: Locating the Boundaries of Multiplex Networks

    Scheinert, S., Koliba, C., Hurley, S., Coleman, S., and Zia, A.

    2015. Complexity, Governance & Networks. 2(1): 65–82

    Governance networks are both nested and interconnected systems. Identifying internal boundaries within governance networks, such as those governance structures that influence and are influenced by large and diverse watersheds such as the Lake Champlain Basin, is necessary for differentiating between multiple functional subnetworks. Internal network boundaries exist between functional subnetworks when the networks have divergent structures (Weible & Sabatier, 2005). A qualitative case study of Lake Champlain Basin watershed governance networks identi- fied several key overlapping subnetworks in which organizations interact in a variety of ways (Koliba, Reynolds, Zia, & Scheinert, 2015). An online survey of institutional actors was used to identify which actors were connected in five different functional subnetworks. Structural com- parisons are made by analyzing the correlation between the subnetworks based on the quadratic assignment procedure (QAP) and network macrostructure. Results show that the information sharing, technical assistance, and project collaboration subnetworks formed one grouping, while the reporting and financial resource sharing subnetworks formed another grouping. The results demonstrated that this triangulated comparison was necessary to reach valid conclusions on the structural variation between the subnetworks on a multiplex network when subnetworks were structurally similar.
  • An Institutional Analysis of the Kaipara Harbour Governance Network in New Zealand

    Pooja K., Koliba, C., Greenhalgh, S. and Bowden, W.B.

    Accepted for publication, Society & Natural Resources.