Public Willingness to Pay for Ecosystem Services: Water Quality in the Triangle Region, North Carolina

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Urban, Dean L.

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Ecosystem services are the benefits nature gives to human. With population increase and water quality degradation, there has been increased importance in conserving land and water that provides ecosystem services in the Triangle region, North Carolina. Especially, there have been conflicts between city of Durham and Raleigh, as the surface runoff from upstream community (Durham) degrades water reservoir quality, where downstream community (Raleigh) drinks from. In order to study public perception, opinions, and willingness to pay for ecosystem services and suggest possible payment schemes for water quality improvement in the region, a web survey was designed and conducted. 201 households in Durham, Wake, Orange and Chatham counties of North Carolina completed the survey. The result indicates that people are very willing to conserve clean water in the area, and people preferred voluntary payment method over taxation to improve their household water quality. Durham residents are willing to pay $10.3/mo for conservation of upstream land, where their water comes from, and $9.0/mo for downstream, where the water quality is affected by their surface runoff. Wake residents are willing to pay $10.0/mo for upstream and $6.7/mo for downstream. People are more willing to pay for conservation of open space where they live nearby, or which are their water reservoirs. The research shows that there needs to be more environmental education about ecosystem services and water sources, to make community efforts to conserve ecosystem services and improve water quality in the region. The legislation can consider tighter restrictions for water quality improvement, and facilitate more voluntary donations in utility bills.





Joo, Ruth Jihyung (2011). Public Willingness to Pay for Ecosystem Services: Water Quality in the Triangle Region, North Carolina. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from

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