Valuing the effect of freshwater over-abstraction on fish species

Jennifer Garbe*, Lindsay Beevers, Gareth Pender

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Increasing human interventions are placing a high demand upon existing water resources. Consequently in some parts of the world, unsustainable volumes of water are being abstracted from freshwater sources. An effect of this is a detrimental impact upon freshwater ecosystems. Ecosystems are vital for human wellbeing, providing the water we drink, the food we eat and the air we breathe. Current thinking is that protecting them using the traditional command and control approaches to management will not be successful and will result in failure of natural systems to sustain the goods and services upon which we rely. Therefore an 'ecosystems approach' is being promoted as a new form of management, to work alongside economic growth and development rather than against it. In order for ecosystems to be protected a value must be placed upon them, as we do not protect what we do not value. The research reported in this paper fits into a wider project to create an optimization model for water trading. The aspect dealt with here is economic evaluation of ecosystem goods and services in terms of water abstraction and trading. The paper uses the river Nar (East Anglia, UK) as a case study to value the impact that over-abstraction may have on one ecosystem service; fish, in particular brown trout. Brown trout will be valued to determine the monetary loss (or gain) that water abstraction will have on this resource. Abstraction is modelled by estimating its impact on river flow and relating this to habitat suitability for fish using the software PHABSIM (Physical Habitat Simulation System). Following on from this a utilitarian valuation method is employed to determine the economic value angling brings to the river Nar and to the local economy. Conclusions are drawn upon the economic impact water abstraction is having on brown trout, alongside setting this into the UK perspective of angling valuation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication35th IAHR World Congress 2013
Subtitle of host publicationThe Wise Find Pleasure in Water: Meandering Through Water Science and Engineering
EditorsW. Zhaoyin, J. H. W. Lee, G. Jizhang, C. Shuyou
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9781629938141
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Event35th IAHR World Congress - Chengdu, China
Duration: 8 Sept 201313 Sept 2013


Conference35th IAHR World Congress
Abbreviated titleIAHR 2013


  • Freshwater abstraction
  • Ecosystem services
  • Fisheries
  • Ecosystem approach
  • Valuation


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