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Valuing Ground Water: Economic Concepts and Approaches
water valuation research needs to be explored. Participants should include environmental economists, ground water scientists and engineers, and political scientists. The roles of such disciplines and the constraints related to interdisciplinary endeavors need to be studied. Also, the public's perception of the use of valuation methods and its understanding of valuation study results should be gauged.
Attention should be given to developing and improving methods for quantifying the value of ecological services and for determining existence and bequest values for ground water resources. These topics have so far received minimal attention. Of particular significance is both the recognition of ecological services and the development of integrated methods to quantify such services. Efforts should also be focused on developing TEV information for ground water resources.
Technical and economic uncertainties must be recognized in efforts to develop site-specific information regarding the benefits and costs of decisions related to development, protection, and/or remediation of ground water. For example, in relation to remediation decisions, the stochastic modeling of the contamination problem and the potential effectiveness of cleanup measures should be used to develop ranges of information that can be viewed together as an indicator of "sensitivity analysis." The possible influences of uncertainties and nondelineated costs and benefits (or ground water services) should also be considered in a qualitative manner.
Finally, because we are only recently recognizing the importance of valuing ground water, there are extensive educational and technology transfer needs for ground water professionals, environmental economists, regulators, and ground water managers. As noted earlier, the planning and conduct of such valuation studies requires interdisciplinary involvement. While the leadership should come from EPA, other federal, state, and local agencies, along with appropriate professional groups such as the Association of Ground Water Scientists and Engineers (AGWSE), American Geophysical Union (AGU), American Water Resource Association (AWRA), and others, should jointly participate in technical and policy conferences and in generating a body of published literature on the value of ground water and the advantages and limitations of valuation methods. Handbooks related to planning such studies should be developed. Such efforts would help to increase awareness of ground water's value and to demonstrate how valuation information could improve decision-making.
It is recognized that many of these stated research needs are broad. Such needs could be made more specific upon the development of a research strategy focused on ground water valuation. The strategy which should be spearheaded by EPA, should include an overall goal, specific objectives, delineation of multiple agency involvements (e.g., EPA, USGS, Corps of Engineers, NOAA, and nongovernmental organizations), specific problem statements on needed research topics, and budgetary requirements and time schedule.