Evaluating the Tradeoffs between Groundwater Pumping for Snow-Melting and Nearshore Fishery Productivity in Obama City, Japan

Groundwater is used in Obama City, Japan, to melt snow (~13% of total groundwater use) during the winter, the remainder being used for mostly domestic purposes, such as drinking water. Due to concern about the impacts of this snow-melting practice on nearshore marine resources, we estimate the benefits and costs of increasing the volume of the groundwater used for snow-melting by 50%. Assuming that the outcome is the same for all possible snow-melting techniques—snow effectively removed from roads—the primary benefit of the use of groundwater for snow-melting is the avoided cost of, or cost savings relative to, alternative technologies. The costs include losses to nearshore fishery productivity, due to a decline in submarine groundwater discharge (SGD), and increased energy expenditures on groundwater pumping, used to supply the snow-melting system.

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