Environmental Economics

Intrinsic Benefits of Improved Water Quality: Conceptual and Empirical Perspectives

The benefits from improved water quality fall into two categories, with use benefits being those tied to using the water (such as public water supplies, recreation, irrigation, etc.), and intrinsic benefits being the remaining (non-use) benefits such as aesthetics, existence value, option value and bequest value. This paper discusses theoretical considerations in measuring intrinsic benefits, comparing the estimates of intrinsic benefits from previous studies and discussing their relationship to recreation use benefits. The paper shows that the intrinsic values are large in relationship to recreation use benefits. It also compares per capita intrinsic benefits from studies using different methodologies and data sets. Finally, the paper concludes that due to the size of intrinsic benefits, estimates that rely on direct use (and which do not estimate intrinsic values) will significantly underestimate total benefits.

  • Keywords

    1. Benefits Analysis
    1. Benefits Analysis - Valuation
    1. Benefits Analysis - Valuation - Stated Preference
    1. Benefits Analysis - Valuation - Stated Preference - Contingent Valuation
    Environmental Media:
    b. Water
    b. Water - Surface
    Fisher, Ann
    Raucher, Robert
    EPA Project Officer/ Manager:
    Fisher, Ann
    Geographic Area:
    Study Purpose:
    Empirical Application, Methodology Development & Evaluation
    Inventory Record #: EE-0057
  • Participating Organizations

    Research Organization:

    Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Policy, Planning and Evaluation, Office of Policy AnalysisAddress:
    City: Washington State: DC ZIP: 20460
    Phone: Fax:
  • Report Details
    Number of Pages:
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    Date Linked: 08/25/2017