Development of Techniques that are Acceptable for Measuring Municipal Water Values, Nonuse Values, Ecosystem Benefits, and Broad Public Benefits as Part of Alternative Evaluation In Feasibility Studies
Several river basin storage investigations and plan formulation assessments currently being completed by Reclamation in cooperation with state agencies such as the California Department of Water Resources include municipal water supply and river restoration components. In order to properly account for all of the municipal water supply, restoration, and ecosystem benefits, as well as broader public benefits to the general project area, these impacts must be identified and measured as part of the plan formulation and feasibility studies. Methods currently used to estimate these benefits are typically fallback techniques that do not accurately measure these values, but use costs as a proxy for benefits. These fallback techniques are not providing decisionmakers with a true picture of the benefits associated with restoration. This Science and Technology (S&T) Program research project will provide a detailed description and theoretical basis for techniques that can be used in these analyses.
Need and Benefit
There are several river basin storage investigations currently underway in California that are joint projects involving Reclamation and the State of California. These investigations have a common goal of providing water for environmental purposes, enhancing municipal water supplies, and providing for broad public benefits. However, there is not general agreement on the methods that should be used to value these purposes. There is expertise and capabilities available to apply the different methods, but there has--to date-- been no attempt to objectively compare the assumptions, theoretical validity, and potential error associated with the different methods. In addition, the use of different methods for different studies may lead to inconsistent results for similar projects. Without some comparison of methods and understanding of the impact of using different methods to value these resources, Reclamation may not be correctly interpreting estimates of resource values.
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The following documents were not reviewed. Statements made in these documents are those of the authors. The findings have not been verified.
Project Summary - Development of Techniques that are Acceptable for Measuring Municipal Water Values, Nonuse Values, Ecosystem Benefits, and Broad Public Benefits as Part of Alternative Evaluation In Feasibility Studies (final, PDF, 5KB)
By Steven Piper
Report completed on May 30, 2014