Mainstream and Heterodox Approaches to Water Quality Valuation: A Case for Pluralistic Water Policy Analysis

Posted: 26 Oct 2020

See all articles by Bonnie Keeler

Bonnie Keeler

University of Minnesota - St. Paul - Natural Capital Project

Date Written: October 2020

Abstract

Cost-benefit analyses have largely failed to demonstrate a positive benefit to cost ratio for programs designed to improve and protect water quality in the United States and European Union. At the same time, research from outside economics suggests that water quality ranks among the most urgent environmental concerns and highlights deep social and cultural connections to clean water. Exploring alternative explanations for this apparent water value paradox is essential to informing contemporary rulemaking and regulatory analyses, such as the Clean Water Act and the debated Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. I review contemporary advances in mainstream environmental economics relevant to the value of clean water, frontiers that have not yet been integrated into mainstream valuation methods, and pluralistic approaches from sociology, history, and moral philosophy that offer policy-relevant insights but do not fit neatly in cost-benefit frameworks of valuation. The review concludes with recommendations for improved water quality planning and policy in pursuit of a more comprehensive and pluralistic understanding of the value of clean water.

Suggested Citation

Keeler, Bonnie, Mainstream and Heterodox Approaches to Water Quality Valuation: A Case for Pluralistic Water Policy Analysis (October 2020). Annual Review of Resource Economics, Vol. 12, Issue 1, pp. 235-258, 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3716715 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-resource-100517-023134

Bonnie Keeler (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota - St. Paul - Natural Capital Project ( email )

St. Paul, MN 55108
United States

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