Because water in the United State has not been traded in markets, there is no meaningful estimate of what it would cost if it were traded. But failing to establish ground water's value--for in situ uses such as sustaining wetlands as well as for extractive uses such as agriculture--will lead to continued overuse and degradation of the nation's aquifers.
In Valuing Ground Water an interdisciplinary committee integrates the latest economic, legal, and physical knowledge about ground water and methods for valuing this resource, making it comprehensible to decisionmakers involved in Superfund cleanup efforts, local wellhead protection programs, water allocation, and other water-related management issues. Using the concept of total economic value, this volume provides a framework for calculating the economic value of ground water and evaluating tradeoffs between competing uses of it. Included are seven case studies where ground-water valuation has been or could be used in decisionmaking.
The committee examines trends in ground-water management, factors that contribute to its value, and issues surrounding ground-water allocation and legal rights to its use. The book discusses economic valuation of natural resources and reviews several valuation methods.
Presenting conclusions, recommendations, and research priorities, Valuing Ground Water will be of interest to those concerned about ground-water issues: policymakers, regulators, economists, attorneys, researchers, resource managers, and environmental advocates.
National Research Council. Valuing Ground Water: Economic Concepts and Approaches. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 1997.
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