Water Resource Economics

Water resource economics is a field devoted to examining and estimating the commercial, residential, agricultural, recreational and aesthetic values of a water resource and the full benefits and costs of the resource’s development or management programs. These values include the value of safe, reliable water supplies; the value of in-stream or in-lake water uses; the value of water-based recreation activities; and the value of water-dependent wildlife habitat. The dollar values of the water resources in these uses depend on the value that humans place on the benefits provided. This field has developed time-tested tools to estimate resource values so that apples-to-apples comparisons of projects and management programs can be made.

Our studies found that recreational and non-use value of the Indian River Lagoon in Florida would increase by at least $80 million per year if there were a significant increase in the amount and diversity of wildlife on the Lagoon and increased water quality throughout the Lagoon system.

Hazen and Sawyer estimated the intensity of Biscayne Bay uses and their economic contributions from 1980 to 2004 in terms of the direct, indirect and induced sales, income, employment and tax revenues generated by the uses of the Bay. The study’s results were used to justify investments the protect Biscayne Bay’s environmental and ecosystem qualities.

For the Water Research Foundation, the Hazen team created a rigorous and quantitative hybrid TBL – life cycle assessment (LCA) tool, called WaterSET, that provides an iterative framework of collaboration and feedback from water utility partners. The project consists of a state-of-the-industry assessment, workshops and a survey of potential utility users, TBL-LCA framework and methodology development, a WaterSET Excel-based tool, and case study applications.

The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission retained Hazen and Sawyer to develop a methodology that would allow its Asset Management Program to monetize level of service based upon the economic value of water. This conceptual water demand curve illustrates the parts of the curve that represent the value of water.

Hazen’s economists are experts in estimating the dollar values of benefits and costs associated with water resources development, management and regulation. Our economists have:

  • PhDs and M.S. degrees in economics and related majors from universities with outstanding programs in the field.
  • 10 to 35 years of applied expertise in the application of natural resource economics to communities, utilities and governments.
  • national and international experience with a variety of clients including small community water systems, large urban municipalities, state and federal government agencies, and international development organizations.
  • experience working closely with engineers in areas encompassing water, wastewater, reclaimed water, and stormwater.
  • We are frequently asked to develop valuations of specific natural resources to local and regional economies and to quantify the economic impacts of preserving or consuming those resources during regulatory and policy evaluations through economic and environmental impact assessments. We tailor analytical tools to meet individual project needs and we apply a project performance standard designed to withstand legal challenge.

    Our economists use a variety of tools including econometric modeling, economic input-output analysis, statistical methods, financial modeling, market and non-market valuation, and survey research. We regularly perform benefit-cost analyses, financial feasibility studies, and fiscal impact assessments.

    For inquiries contact:
    Grace Johns