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Valuing Ground Water: Economic Concepts and Approaches
help it evaluate water supply alternatives, it is described further in Chapter 6 (Brown et al., 1996).
VALUATION AND GROUND WATER QUALITY PROTECTION
Ground water quality protection law is perhaps even more fragmented than ground water allocation law. While federal law provides a legal umbrella, no single unifying federal ground water quality protection law exists. The federal Clean Water Act does not establish a basic program for ground water quality protection the way it does for surface water. Rather, federal ground water quality protection programs are scattered throughout a variety of federal environmental statutes.
For example, resource valuation plays a significant role in Superfund policy. First, valuation is implicitly involved in benefit-cost analyses of Superfund cleanup alternatives. Second, valuation is critical in recovering damages caused to natural resources. Under the 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act amendments, benefit-cost analysis will be used in establishing new drinking water standards.
Ground Water Quality Protection
Ground water quality protection measures generally address either point source or non-point source pollution.
Point Source Pollution
CWA. Section 502(14) of the Clean Water Act (CWA) defined a point source of water pollution to include "any discernible, confined and discrete conveyance … from which pollutants are or may be discharged." This would include a discharge pipe into a stream or an injection well. The CWA thoroughly regulates point discharges into waters of the United States, including streams and wetlands. However, the CWA does not regulate point source discharges to ground water.
SDWA. The Safe Drinking Water Act requires public water suppliers to periodically test the quality of the drinking water they supply to their customers. If testing reveals violations of one or more of the EPA drinking water standards (also referred to as maximum contaminant levels or MCLs), remedial action must be taken.
Under the 1996 SDWA amendments, new MCLs will be established by EPA at a slower pace, and they will be subject to benefit-cost analyses and risk assessment. (More on this later.) States can grant waivers for drinking water system