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Water: Importance of Water

Importance of Water Study

EPA’s study on the importance of water is comprised of five study components:

Part 1 – Background Report
The background report is a literature review and general analysis of U.S. economic and water resource statistics.  The purpose of the background report is to provide a consistent set of conceptual and statistical information on key sectors of the U.S. economy, and to provide a foundation for evaluating cross-cutting themes.  It was also used to identify broad focal areas to solicit proposals for further research in Part 2 (Expert Papers) of the study.

Public Review Draft (PDF) (262 pp, 5.5MB, About PDF)

At the beginning of this study, EPA's Office of Water asked the EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) to provide consultative advice in response to initial study design.

SAB 2011 Consultation

Part 2 – Expert Papers

Seven papers were funded as part of this study to examine various aspects of water use in the U.S. economy.  The purpose of these papers is to go beyond the literature referenced in the background report to support current economic research on the use and economic value of water across various sectors and regions.  

Part 3 - Technical Workshop

EPA hosted a one-day technical workshop in September 2012 in Washington, DC.  The purpose of the workshop was to present the findings from the background report and expert papers, and to engage a diverse mix of analysts and decision-makers from different regions and sectors of the economy in a technical discussion on:

  • Challenges private and public sector decision-makers face in managing and using water resources;
  • Methods and tools analysts use to generate information to support decision-making; and
  • Gaps in information that would improve management and use of water resources.

Attendees (2 pp, 90K, About PDF)
Summary (30 pp, 211K, About PDF)

Part 4 - Public Symposium

EPA hosted a half-day symposium on December 4, 2012 in Washington, DC. The goals of the symposium were: 

  • To provide a forum for sharing information on the role and importance of water to different sectors of the U.S. economy;
  • To initiate a dialogue with public and private sector leaders on the types of information used to guide business’ decisions related to water management; and
  • To explore ways to fill information gaps and prepare for future water needs.

Four roundtables were conducted with different speakers addressing the topics of infrastructure and technology, agriculture, food and beverage production, recreation, tourism and development, and energy. Videos of the symposium are available.

Agenda (2 pp, 431K, About PDF)
Highlights Document
(8 pp, 832K, About PDF)
Speaker Profiles (6 pp, 68K, About PDF)
Roundtable Videos

If you have difficulty accessing PDF documents on this page, please contact the Importance of Water Group (ImportanceOfWater@epa.gov) for assistance.

Part 5 - Synthesis Report

The Synthesis Report  is intended to help raise the awareness of water’s importance to our national economic welfare, and to summarize information that public and private decision-makers can use to better manage the nation’s water resources.  It highlights EPA’s review of the literature and practice on the importance of water to the U.S. economy, identifies key data gaps, and describes the implication of the study’s findings for future research.  EPA hopes this report will be a catalyst for a broader discussion about water’s critical role in the U.S. economy.

Importance of Water Synthesis Report (37 pp, 2MB, About PDF)

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