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Is groundwater recharge always serving us well? Water supply provisioning, crop production, and flood attenuation in conflict in Wisconsin, USA

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  • Booth, Eric G.
  • Zipper, Samuel C.
  • Loheide, Steven P.
  • Kucharik, Christopher J.

Abstract

Ecosystem service mapping can provide an avenue for making effective land management decisions in a holistic way. However, mapped quantities do not always appropriately represent the ecosystem services that are used by humans. We highlight this issue with a case study of groundwater recharge, water supply, flooding, and agricultural production in an urbanizing agricultural watershed in southern Wisconsin, USA. Groundwater recharge is typically treated as a beneficial ecosystem service or service indicator whose value to humans monotonically increases with the amount of recharge. While appropriate from a water supply perspective, this relationship breaks down when excess groundwater recharge leads to flooding and crop damage. We suggest moving beyond groundwater recharge as a stand-alone ecosystem service, and instead propose that observations and biophysical models should be used to quantify the final service humans receive from groundwater (e.g. reliability of water supply from a municipal well). Integration of such derived, point-based metrics with other ecosystem services that are more easily represented at the landscape scale remains a challenge for regional ecosystem service inventories and analyses.

Suggested Citation

  • Booth, Eric G. & Zipper, Samuel C. & Loheide, Steven P. & Kucharik, Christopher J., 2016. "Is groundwater recharge always serving us well? Water supply provisioning, crop production, and flood attenuation in conflict in Wisconsin, USA," Ecosystem Services, Elsevier, vol. 21(PA), pages 153-165.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoser:v:21:y:2016:i:pa:p:153-165
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoser.2016.08.007
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Zipper, Samuel C. & Soylu, Mehmet Evren & Kucharik, Christopher J. & Loheide II, Steven P., 2017. "Quantifying indirect groundwater-mediated effects of urbanization on agroecosystem productivity using MODFLOW-AgroIBIS (MAGI), a complete critical zone model," Ecological Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 359(C), pages 201-219.

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