The 157th RIHN seminar

Date: March 28th, 2018 (Wendsday) 14:00 - 15:30
Place: Seminar Rooms 3 & 4, RIHN( → Access)
Lecturer: Kimberly Burnett,
University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization (UHERO)
RIHN Visiting Research Fellow
Title: Economics of the Water-Energy-Food Nexus: Insights from Kumamoto and Obama
Language: English

Synergies and tradeoffs among water, energy use, and food production should be considered by stakeholders and decision-makers looking to maximize social benefit. Economics can help to identify these tradeoffs by quantifying the benefits and costs of water, energy, and food-related projects. This presentation will provide preliminary results for economic analysis of the water-energy–food nexus using examples from Kumamoto, where upstream agricultural subsidies may be improving downstream water management, and Obama, where groundwater management practices have implications for the nearshore marine fishery.

While most cities in Japan depend on surface water for their municipal water supply, with a population close to 750,000, Kumamoto is 100% percent dependent on groundwater. Monitoring has occurred at over 100 observation wells over the past 40 years, and there are signs of declining water levels, despite relatively constant precipitation and withdrawal. The region has seen significant land use change over this same period, with increased urbanization and reduced national support for rice production, leading to drier fields and potential implications on the groundwater table. In response to these changes, Kumamoto City government began a subsidy program in 2004 providing financial assistance for artificial water ponding in abandoned rice paddies, with a goal of supplementing groundwater recharge downstream. Matching data from production and observation wells in the downstream region, and using an estimated relationship between groundwater levels and production costs, we present preliminary calculations of the benefits of the artificial recharge program.

Obama is a city on the Sea of Japan in Fukui Prefecture, where groundwater is an important resource for a variety of uses including domestic use, melting snow, and fishery production (via submarine groundwater discharge, SGD). Using data from the Obama Fisheries Association on species catch, prices, and fishing costs, we provide preliminary estimates of potential losses to the fishery due to modeled decreases in SGD from increased snow-melting, and compare these to the costs of providing snow-melting services via alternative technologies.

Contact: Nexus Project, Okamoto E-mail