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Water: Economics

Water Quality Economics and Benefits

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Estimating the benefits of water quality programs instituted under the 1972 Clean Water Act (CWA) is one of the requirements faced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It is also an integral part of the Agency’s ongoing process to evaluate the contribution of its water quality programs to society. As a result, estimating the benefits of environmental regulation is one of the many procedural methods EPA uses to determine how it can be more effective in addressing the needs of society. To support these objectives, EPA has initiated a program to improve the data and methods used for estimating the benefits of its water quality programs.

A Benefits Assessment of Water Pollution Control Programs Since 1972: Part 1, The Benefits of Point Source Controls for Conventional Pollutants in Rivers and Streams (PDF) (111 pp, 432K)
The analysis is developed along three dimensions for each waterbody:

  1. the type of waterbody affected,
  2. the pollutants covered by the CWA that are released into the waterbody, and
  3. the services received by users of the waterbody.

This study covers:

  1. the nation’s primary rivers and streams;
  2. conventional pollutants; and
  3. recreational services.

Improving the Practice of Benefit Transfer: Preference Calibration Approach (PDF) (1MB)
This document describes a proposed methodology for improving the way that available valuation information is used to develop benefits estimates.

A Retrospective Assessment of the Costs of the Clean Water Act: 1972 to 1997 (PDF) (615K)
This study assesses the magnitude of costs of reducing water pollution incurred under the Clean Water Act in recent years. The approach taken in this study is to estimate not only recent nationwide costs of water pollution abatement but also to simulate and deduct from these estimates water pollution control costs that would have been incurred without the passage of the Clean Water Act.

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