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Assessing the economic viability of alternative water resources in water scarce regions: The roles of economic valuation, cost–benefit analysis and discounting

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  • Birol, Ekin
  • Koundouri, Phoebe
  • Kountouris, Yiannis

Abstract

This paper demonstrates a comprehensive methodology to assess the viability of an environmental management plan which has long-run economic and ecological impacts. The case study under consideration is the implementation of a water resource management plan in a water scarce region of the world, namely Cyprus. Specifically this plan proposes to replenish a depleting aquifer with treated wastewater. The methodology proposed first identifies the key stakeholder groups, namely farmers and the general public, who are hypothesized to derive economic values (benefits) from the implementation of this plan, and then implements stated preference methods to capture the total economic value of these benefits. Benefits are aggregated over the relevant populations of these stakeholder groups and weighed against the total costs of implementing this plan in a long-run cost-benefit analysis (CBA). An econometrically estimated time declining trajectory of discount rates is used for the CBA in order to assess the long run sustainability of the plan. The results reveal that the net benefit trajectory estimated with the time declining discount rate takes thrice as long to come to a plateau, revealing the importance of using declining discount rates, as well as capturing the entirety of benefits generated by such plans. This methodology is recommended especially for the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive which advocates the use of the CBA and consideration of the notion of sustainability for the achievement of the good water status for all European waters.

Suggested Citation

  • Birol, Ekin & Koundouri, Phoebe & Kountouris, Yiannis, 2009. "Assessing the economic viability of alternative water resources in water scarce regions: The roles of economic valuation, cost–benefit analysis and discounting," 2009 Conference, August 16-22, 2009, Beijing, China 51692, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:iaae09:51692
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    File URL: http://purl.umn.edu/51692
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gollier, Christian, 2002. "Discounting an uncertain future," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(2), pages 149-166, August.
    2. Louviere,Jordan J. & Hensher,David A. & Swait,Joffre D., 2000. "Stated Choice Methods," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521788304, May.
    3. Christian Gollier & Phoebe Koundouri & Theologos Pantelidis, 2008. "Declining discount rates: Economic justifications and implications for long-run policy," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 23, pages 757-795, October.
    4. Sergio Colombo & Nick Hanley & Javier Calatrava-Requena, 2005. "Designing Policy for Reducing the Off-farm Effects of Soil Erosion Using Choice Experiments," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(1), pages 81-95.
    5. Newell, Richard G. & Pizer, William A., 2003. "Discounting the distant future: how much do uncertain rates increase valuations?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 52-71, July.
    6. Ekin Birol & Phoebe Koundouri & Yiannis Kountouris, 2008. "Integrating Wetland Management into Sustainable Water Resources Allocation: The Case of Akrotiri Wetland in Cyprus," Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 51(1), pages 37-53.
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    8. Paul R. Portney, 1994. "The Contingent Valuation Debate: Why Economists Should Care," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 3-17, Fall.
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    10. Othman, Jamal & Bennett, Jeff & Blamey, Russell, 2004. "Environmental values and resource management options: a choice modelling experience in Malaysia," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(06), pages 803-824, December.
    11. Hepburn, Cameron & Koundouri, Phoebe & Panopoulou, Ekaterini & Pantelidis, Theologos, 2009. "Social discounting under uncertainty: A cross-country comparison," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 140-150, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ekin Birol & Sukanya Das, 2010. "The Value of Improved Public Services : An Application of the Choice Experiment Method to Estimate the Value of Improved Wastewater Treatment Infrastructure in India," Development Economics Working Papers 23062, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.

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