A cost-benefit analysis of water quality protection in the Catawba basin

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The primary objective of this study was to perform a cost-benefit analysis of maintaining the current level of water quality in the Catawba River basin. Economic benefits were estimated using a stated preference survey method designed to value respondents' willingness to pay for a management plan to protect water quality in the Catawba basin over time. From the surveys conducted with 1,085 area residents, we calculated an annual mean willingness to pay of $139 for the management plan, or more than $75.4 million for all taxpayers in the area. Over the five-year time horizon in which respondents were asked to pay for the management plan, this resulted in a total economic benefit of $340.1 million. The Watershed Analysis Risk Management Framework model was used to estimate the amount of management activities needed to protect the current level of water quality in the basin over time. Based on the model results, the total cost of the management plan was calculated to be $244.8 million over a ten-year period. The resulting cost-benefit analysis indicated that the potential benefits of this management plan would outweigh the costs by more than $95 million.








Randall Kramer

Juli Plant Grainger Professor Emeritus of Global Environmental Health

Before coming to Duke in 1988, he was on the faculty at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He has held visiting positions at IUCN--The World Conservation Union, the Economic Growth Center at Yale University, and the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry. He has served as a consultant to the World Bank, World Health Organization and other international organizations. He was named Duke University's Scholar Teacher of the Year in 2004.

Kramer's research is focused on the economics of ecosystem services and on global environmental health. He is currently conducting a study on the effects of human land use decisions on biodiversity, infectious disease transmission and human health in rural Madagascar. Recent research projects have used decision analysis and implementation science to evaluate the health, social and environmental impacts of alternative malaria control strategies in East Africa. He has also conducted research on health systems strengthening, economic valuation of lives saved from air pollution reduction. and the role of ecosystems services in protecting human health.

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