The development of a sustainable development model framework

The development of a sustainable development model framework

ARTICLE IN PRESS Energy 31 (2006) 2269–2275 www.elsevier.com/locate/energy The development of a sustainable development model framework Alim P. Hann...

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ARTICLE IN PRESS

Energy 31 (2006) 2269–2275 www.elsevier.com/locate/energy

The development of a sustainable development model framework Alim P. Hannouraa,, Gianna M. Cothrenb, Wael M. Khairyc a

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA 70148, USA Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA 70148, USA c Minister’s Technical Office, Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, Imbaba, Postal Code 12666, Giza, Egypt b

Abstract The emergence of the ‘‘sustainable development’’ concept as a response to the mining of natural resources for the benefit of multinational corporations has advanced the cause of long-term environmental management. A sustainable development model (SDM) framework that is inclusive of the ‘‘whole’’ natural environment is presented to illustrate the integration of the sustainable development of the ‘‘whole’’ ecosystem. The ecosystem approach is an inclusive framework that covers the natural environment relevant futures and constraints. These are dynamically interconnected and constitute the determinates of resources development component of the SDM. The second component of the SDM framework is the resources development patterns, i.e., the use of land, water, and atmospheric resources. All of these patterns include practices that utilize environmental resources to achieve a predefined outcome producing waste and byproducts that require disposal into the environment. The water quality management practices represent the third component of the framework. These practices are governed by standards, limitations and available disposal means subject to quantity and quality permits. These interconnected standards, practices and permits shape the resulting environmental quality of the ecosystem under consideration. A fourth component, environmental indicators, of the SDM framework provides a measure of the ecosystem productivity and status that may differ based on societal values and culture. The four components of the SDM are interwoven into an outcome assessment process to form the management and feedback models. The concept of Sustainable Development is expressed in the management model as an objective function subject to desired constraints imposing the required bounds for achieving ecosystem sustainability. The development of the objective function and constrains requires monetary values for ecosystem functions, resources development activities and environmental cost. The feedback model ensures policy and resources use changes required for sustainability. An iterative process would be required to define the optimum ecosystem development plan that satisfies sustainable outcome. r 2006 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Keywords: Ecosystems; Water resources; Sustainable development; Watershed management; Decision support models

Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 504 280 6283; fax: +1 504 280 5586.

E-mail addresses: [email protected], [email protected] (A.P. Hannoura). 0360-5442/$ - see front matter r 2006 Published by Elsevier Ltd. doi:10.1016/j.energy.2006.01.022

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Resources-Use The

Determinates

The

Resources-Use System

Patterns

System

Management

Water Quality

Feedback

Management Model

Practices

Model

Environmental Indicators Fig. 1. Major component of the eco model.

1. The ecosystem approach The ecosystem approach is an inclusive framework that covers the natural environment including all relevant futures and constraints; population demographics and associated economic activities, resources use and development; the market forces governing economic development; public service institutions and facilities; and the existing regulation controlling all previous activities and population growth as well. These components are dynamically interconnected and constitute the resources-use determinates sub-model of the ecosystem model (EcoModel) shown in Fig. 1. The second sub-model of the EcoModel covers resources-use-patterns, i.e., the use of land, water, and atmospheric resources. In general, these are classified, for land-based developments, as urban, agricultural, and industrial among others. All of these patterns include practices that utilize the environmental resources to achieve a predefined outcome producing waste and by-products that require disposal into the environment. Fig. 1. illustrates typical resources use patterns for aquatic systems. The water quality management practices represent the third sub-model of the EcoModel. These practices are governed by water quality standards and limitations and available disposal means subject to quantity and quality permits. These interconnected standards, practices and permits shape the resulting water quality of the system under consideration. These dynamics are shown in Fig. 1. The fourth sub-model, environmental indicators, of the EcoModel provides a measure of the ecosystem status that may differ based on societal values and culture. In the case of the Pontchartrain ecosystem, these measures were chosen to include fisheries’ productivity, use of water bodies for recreation, and economic development parameters. Finally, an important feature of the EcoModel is the management and feedback modes. In these models, the concept of sustainable development is expressed in terms of an objective function subject to desired constraints imposing the required bounds for achieving ecosystem sustainability. This is the major component of the management model. The development of the objective function and constrains requires the determination of a monetary value for ecosystem functions as well as a price for resources development activities and environmental impacts cost. It is expected that this component would be of a complex nature to accommodate societal values that may have more favourable consideration in comparison to monetary returns. Policy changes required to attain sustainable environmental indicators require alternative resources use patterns; this would be the function of the feedback model. 2. The requirements for sustainable ecosystem projects The ecosystem approach presented in this article requires three distinctive stages; these are the reconnaissance, feasibility, and implementation. In the reconnaissance stage, all existing conditions are

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surveyed and documented. This covers the physical environment along with population dynamics, institutional data and economic activities. The objective of this stage is defining in a very detailed manner the interaction among all factors that shape the existing conditions and its connection to the problem under consideration. Once this connection is established, it will be possible to assess all dimensions of the problem and proceed to the formulation of alternative solutions. The feasibility stage investigates and ranks the developed alternatives of the reconnaissance stage developing a quantitative monetary value for each alternative along with its environmental impacts. This stage will produce detailed procedures and specific recommendations for the implementation stage. It is important to expect that the type of a project that will require the use of the ‘‘ecosystem approach’’ may contain a number of watersheds and domains within the political boundaries of a number of sovereign states. This becomes a complicated issue considering the growing globalization of the environmental services. It will be required to adhere to universal values that account for the varied human issues, e.g., societal values and the cultural traditions, of native populations affected by resources development. Therefore, the formulation of this large ecosystem type project should be based on the basic understanding that these issues deserve the respect of the developing concerns and that the ‘‘whole’’ area of the project under development will be considered. The following section provides a partial list of some action areas that translate this understanding required to enhance the success of the ecosystem-based projects. 2.1. Organizational support The development of ecosystem-based projects requires the understanding that well defined functions and responsibilities must be assigned within an organized management structure to qualified personnel. This will require that directives from the Chief Executive Officer of developing concern to its unit managers reflect the commitment of the organization to the preservation of the environment. The management structure should allow the establishment of necessary internal operational procedures and policies for quality control and accountability. The individuals performing the specific tasks of the management plan must receive the required training and resources on all levels. A crucial requirement among these credentials is the ability of these personnel to interact and communicate with the public. 2.2. Integration The concept of ‘‘ecosystem management’’ is used in order to achieve an optimal policy for environmental preservation and resources development. The financial benefits from resources development is considered as important as the environmental impact caused by the development. Furthermore, while these two sides of any typical development project are the most visible, other societal and cultural are also issues to be seriously considered and never overlooked. This approach, by including the ‘‘whole’’ ecosystem, i.e., the physical environment (forest, land, water and air); people (values, tradition and jobs); and resources (genetics, mineral and renewable) is ensuring that current and future changes could be correctly categorized and accounted for. This ‘‘guiding principle’’ is translated to a comprehensive database system, which could be developed via the use of information systems technologies (geographic information system-GIS and global positioning system-GPS). This could be viewed as a foundation for more features, e.g., operation, administration and communication, of the project area to enhance the financial return on the investment required for this system. 2.3. Continuity The ‘‘sustainable development’’ as a feature of the ‘‘ecosystem approach’’ aims at the preservation of bioregionalism, environmental restoration, utilization of best available technologies, and enhancement of environmental awareness. This new concept, actually, stems from the application of the ‘‘integrated management system’’ because once the conditions associated with all of the components required for the integration of the system are not violated; ‘‘sustainable development’’ could be achieved.

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The continuity of this concept beyond the completion period of the project under consideration is ensured by technical training required for the development of human resources. 2.4. Integrity and growth Investments in environmental resources development and management are characterized by the complexity of the numerous variables considered and the longevity of the development duration and its consequences. These features necessitate that any management system for resources development and protection of the environment must be; first: Capable of maintaining a high degree of flexibility without impacting its technical integrity; and second: Structured to meet the demand of the changing nature of development schemes and environmental concerns. 2.5. Community Environmental resources and management plans, as characterized above, must be inclusive of societal and cultural concerns. The successful implementation of any ecosystem management plan, therefore, requires the inclusion of the community-at-large. This is a must because people perform the tasks required for successful implementation of the plan. The ‘‘Community’’ is defined as the affected population of the ecosystem, which may extend beyond the project area. The participation of the community should be based of sound knowledge of all aspects of the development and this could only be achieved through the process of public hearing and training seminars, i.e., awareness and public relations opportunities, for the ‘‘Community.’’ Furthermore, it will be an excellent investment to extend these opportunities to all concerned citizens of even beyond the ecosystem under consideration within the national boundaries of the state. Public hearing could be used to disseminate information to the population of the development areas as well as concerned citizens of major urban sites. This process of inclusion could generate the support and understanding of the public and special interest groups for the developing concerns. 3. The Pontchartrain ecosystem project: a case study The Colleges of Engineering and Sciences at the University of New Orleans developed a comprehensive research plan covering the spectrum of variables and processes influencing the environmental quality and productivity of the Pontchartrain Ecosystem entitled ‘‘The Pontchartrain Ecosystem Research & Education Project.’’ The project was established to conduct basic and applied research programs for the restoration of the aquatic resources and its sustainable development. A long-term objective of the proposed research is to develop an ecosystem management model, which integrates all parameters affecting the environmental quality and productivity of Lake Pontchartrain and, ultimately, its impact on the food chain as a measure of sustainability. 3.1. Project objectives The Pontchartrain Ecosystem Research and Education Project has established an interdisciplinary research group by bringing researchers with a wide spectrum of backgrounds from the science and engineering faculty at UNO with selected members from other colleges and universities. This group has been working together since 1996 in a coordinated effort to undertake the following major objectives:

   

Develop a comprehensive database from the scattered sources of data on the lake ecosystem; Design and conduct long-term research complimentary to those of local, state and federal agencies; Share ideas and disseminate information to technical and non-technical groups; and Create educational programs for traditional academic institutions.

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These current objectives are being supported by an intensive effort to establish a centralized database at UNO for the Pontchartrain ecosystem. This database is accessible to all users working within the Pontchartrain ecosystem via the University of New Orleans World-Wide Web site of the Internet, www.uno.edu. The database is being updated via eight major projects; these are: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

development of a database network; freshwater inflow and tidal exchange; estimation of nutrients, sediment and waste loads; circulation, transport and eutrophication in lake Pontchartrain; field studies of phytoplankton; field assessment of benthic and periphyton communities; fish population analysis; and out-reach and educational programs.

3.2. Description of the case study The Lake Pontchartrain system in Louisiana and Alabama States (Fig. 2) is a large impoundment in a complex estuary system. Its Basin area is a 4700 square mile, forming one of the largest estuarine ecosystems on the Gulf Coast and one of the largest in the United States. The unique mixture of biota in this ecosystem is composed of freshwater and marine species supported by physiochemical and hydrologic processes involving river inflows, exchanges with interconnected high salinity coastal waters, and interactions with surrounding watersheds which have experienced major urban developments over the last several decades. In the center of the Basin is the 630 square mile Lake Pontchartrain and the largest population center in Louisiana, the Greater New Orleans area, at 1.5 million individuals. Before 1988, the lake produced commercial quantities of finfish and shellfish. It also supported an important commercial blue crab fishery. Lake Pontchartrain receives runoff from the Pontchartrain and Pearl River drainage basins, besides urban flow from the City of New Orleans, and periodic flow from the Mississippi River. A fraction of Pearl River discharge enters the Lake through the Rigolets and Chef Menteur Pass. The Pearl River discharge may also displace Gulf of Mexico waters, thus preventing high salinity waters from entering Lake Pontchartrain. The Pontchartrain Basin consists of four river systems, Amite, Tickfaw, Tangipahoa, and Tchefuncte Rivers, plus numerous smaller local streams [1]. Starting from 1988 due to un-managed use of fertilizers and pesticides in the northern rural areas of the Basin, excessive municipal and industrial seepage loads from Greater New Orleans, in addition to releasing large flow from the Mississippi River at emergency time in 1997, Lake Pontchartrain has experienced a phase of declining water quality accompanied by decreased productivity and limitations on its use for recreational activities [2]. Its shorelines had croded; its wetlands had been lost; it had been mined for shells, oil and gas; there were dead zones; fisheries resources had diminished; beaches were closed and its substantial commercial and recreational values were damaged. These factors influence economic development and quality of life in this history-rich urban center of the state. Because of its proximity to New Orleans, Lake Pontchartrain has traditionally been important for such recreational activities as swimming, boating, and sport fishing. Since 1989, the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation (LPBF) had led a coordinated effort to restore the environmental quality of the Basin. To achieve this goal, LPBF had built consensus on the environmental issues facing the Basin and developed strategies to find solutions to manage and solve these problems. 4. Results and conclusive remarks The Pontchartrain Ecosystem Research and Education Project was formulated as academic exercise in applied research based on the inclusive concept of ecosystem modelling as illustrated in Fig. 1. The initial phase of the project was planned for the period of 1996–2000 with mostly external funding from private sources and matching from the University of New Orleans. Over the last few years, new focused projects have been funded through the University of New Orleans-Urban management and Research Center. The concept of Ecosystem modelling has provided a new dimension in the process of graduate students’ training. They must work together in close teams since their needs are mutual. The studies on urban runoff [3]

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Fig. 2. Location of the case study.

and agricultural watersheds [1] provided the boundary condition for the hydrodynamics investigations of the Lake System [4]. The water quality studies [2] and the estimations of Lake evaporation rates [5] were also used in the mass balance of the Lake salinity analysis [4]. Acknowledgment The support of Freeport Mc-MoRan Foundation, the University of New Orleans-Urban Waste Management and Research Center is acknowledged.

References [1] Khairy W. Integrated watershed modelling for optimum environmental quality of aquatic systems. PhD dissertation, University of New Orleans, 2000.

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[2] Ismail I. Water quality in the Pontchartrain basin: overview and correlation with algal bloom. M.S. thesis, University of New Orleans, 1999. [3] Moulton D. Basin transference of storm water quality modelling parameters. MS thesis, University of New Orleans, 1998. [4] El’Shafie A. Hydrodynamics and salinity distribution modelling of lake pontchartrain and its stratified tributaries. PhD dissertation, University of New Orleans, 2000. [5] Bouzinac M. Evaporation estimates from class ‘A’ pan and weather data for lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana. MS thesis, University of New Orleans, 1997.