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Supporting cost-effective watershed management strategies for Chesapeake Bay using a modeling and optimization framework
Environmental Modelling & Software  (IF5.288),  Pub Date : 2021-07-17, DOI: 10.1016/j.envsoft.2021.105141
Daniel E. Kaufman, Gary W. Shenk, Gopal Bhatt, Kevin W. Asplen, Olivia H. Devereux, Jessica R. Rigelman, J. Hugh Ellis, Benjamin F. Hobbs, Darrell J. Bosch, George L. Van Houtven, Arthur E. McGarity, Lewis C. Linker, William P. Ball

Extensive efforts to adaptively manage nutrient pollution rely on Chesapeake Bay Program's (Phase 6) Watershed Model, called Chesapeake Assessment Scenario Tool (CAST), which helps decision-makers plan and track implementation of Best Management Practices (BMPs). We describe mathematical characteristics of CAST and develop a constrained nonlinear BMP-subset model, software, and visualization framework. This represents the first publicly available optimization framework for exploring least-cost strategies of pollutant load control for the United States' largest estuary. The optimization identifies implementation options for a BMP subset modeled with load reduction effectiveness factors, and the web interface facilitates interactive exploration of >30,000 solutions organized by objective, nutrient control level, and for ~200 counties. We assess framework performance and demonstrate modeled cost improvements when comparing optimization-suggested proposals with proposals inspired by jurisdiction plans. Stakeholder feedback highlights the framework's current utility for investigating cost-effective tradeoffs and its usefulness as a foundation for future analysis of restoration strategies.