Date of Graduation

Spring 5-16-2014

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Management (MSEM)


Environmental Management

First Advisor

Dr. Kathleen Jennings


In this study, a cost-effectiveness analysis and multiple case studies of cities ranging from New York City, USA to Bogota, Columbia are discussed to show how watershed protection can reduce the associated costs and risks stemming from impaired water and usually eliminate the need for human engineered treatment. A cost-effectiveness analysis was performed by comparing three municipalities that have obtained Filtration Avoidance Determinations through watershed protection (green infrastructure) compared with three municipalities that have installed human engineered filtration (gray infrastructure). Using turbidity and E. coli as indicators of effectiveness, the results of this analysis determined that human engineered infrastructure is more effective at reducing turbidity levels; however, both methods (human engineered and watershed protection) met all water quality standards. The avoided costs observed in cities that had implemented green infrastructure were oftentimes in the millions and in some cases billions of dollars. One of the most surprising results from this research is that some of the largest cities in the U.S. rely solely upon watershed protection as the primary method to achieve water quality standards. In addition, the long-term value of green infrastructure is far greater than investments in gray infrastructure. Protection strategies implemented by cities range from complete protection through conservation easements, land acquisitions, and designations to management strategies, such as the implementation of agricultural and forestry management practices.