Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

The Impacts of the 'Right to Know': Information Disclosure and the Violation of Drinking Water Standards

41 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2006 Last revised: 16 Mar 2008

Lori Snyder Bennear

Duke University - Nicholas School for the Environment

Sheila M. Olmstead

LBJ School of Public Affairs; Resources for the Future

Date Written: March 13, 2008

Abstract

Information disclosure regulations are increasingly common, but their effects on the behavior of regulated firms are unclear. The 1996 Amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act mandated that community drinking water suppliers issue to customers annual consumer confidence reports (CCRs), containing information on violations of drinking water regulations and on observed contaminant levels. We examine the impact of mandatory information provision on drinking water violations by 517 community water systems in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from 1990-2003. Results suggest that larger utilities required to mail CCRs directly to customers reduced total violations by between 30 and 44% as a result of this policy, and reduced the more severe health violations by 40 to 57%.

Keywords: regulation, information disclosure, water quality, right-to-know, program evaluation

JEL Classification: L51, Q53, Q58, D80

Suggested Citation

Bennear, Lori Snyder and Olmstead, Sheila M., The Impacts of the 'Right to Know': Information Disclosure and the Violation of Drinking Water Standards (March 13, 2008). Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=939590 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.939590

Lori Snyder Bennear

Duke University - Nicholas School for the Environment ( email )

Box 90328
Durham, NC 27708-0328
United States

Sheila M. Olmstead (Contact Author)

LBJ School of Public Affairs ( email )

2300 Red River St., Stop E2700
PO Box Y
Austin, TX 78713
United States
512-471-2064 (Phone)

Resources for the Future ( email )

1616 P Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States
512-471-2064 (Phone)

Paper statistics

Downloads
279
Rank
91,575
Abstract Views
1,356