The Columbia River Gorge’s Eagle Creek Fire will be history as about 5 inches of rain are forecast to fall within the next several days. Tongue-in-cheek, we can calculate the ecosystem service value of rain by analyzing the avoided cost of an alternative delivery vehicle — the Global Supertanker.
Five inches of rain delivered across the Eagle Creek Fire’s 48,387 acres is 6.6 billion gallons. The Supertanker can dump about 20,000 gallons per sortie, and, if a sufficient airfield is nearby, can perform about seven sorties per day at a daily rate of $250,000 (note that these calculations are for dumping water, not retardant, which would add a couple of bucks per gallon to the cost). It would take the Supertanker about 47,000 days to dump the equivalent of 5 inches of rain at a cost of $10 billion and change.
Ahh, blissful, beautiful,
cheap free rain!