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Water 2017, 9(8), 621; https://doi.org/10.3390/w9080621

River Water Quality: Who Cares, How Much and Why?

1
Land, Environment, Economics and Policy Institute (LEEP), University of Exeter, Exeter EX4 4PJ, UK
2
Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich Research Park, Norwich, Norfolk NR4 7TJ, UK and Department of Political Science and International, University of Siena 1240, 10. Mattioli, 53100 Siena, Italy
3
Department of Economics, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 2 August 2017 / Revised: 15 August 2017 / Accepted: 17 August 2017 / Published: 19 August 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Economics and Policy)
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Abstract

An important motivation for the implementation of the Water Framework Directive is the creation of non-market environmental benefits, such as improved ecological quality, or greater opportunities for open-access river recreation via microbial pollution remediation. Pollution sources impacting on ecological or recreational water quality may be uncorrelated, but non-market benefits arising from riverine improvements are typically conflated within benefit valuation studies. Using stated preference choice experiments embedded within a survey that also collected respondents’ socio-economic characteristics, we aimed to disaggregate these sources of value for different river users, thereby allowing decision makers to understand the consequences of adopting alternative investment strategies. Our results suggested that anglers derived greater value from improvements to the ecological quality of river water, in contrast to swimmers and rowers, for whom greater value is gained from improvements to recreational quality. More generally, we found three distinct groups of respondents: a majority preferring ecological over recreational improvements, a substantial minority holding opposing preference orderings, and a yet smaller proportion expressing relatively low values for either form of river quality enhancement. As such, this research demonstrates that the non-market benefits that may accrue from different types of water quality improvements are nuanced in terms of their potential beneficiaries and, by inference, their overall value and policy implications. View Full-Text
Keywords: Water Framework Directive; ecological and microbiological water quality; choice experiment; willingness to pay for river water quality; conditional logit; latent class analysis; non-market benefits Water Framework Directive; ecological and microbiological water quality; choice experiment; willingness to pay for river water quality; conditional logit; latent class analysis; non-market benefits
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Hampson, D.I.; Ferrini, S.; Rigby, D.; Bateman, I.J. River Water Quality: Who Cares, How Much and Why? Water 2017, 9, 621.

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