An Integrated Valuation Model Linking Nutrient Reductions to Changing Ecosystem Services in Freshwater Systems

EPA Grant Number: R836168
Title: An Integrated Valuation Model Linking Nutrient Reductions to Changing Ecosystem Services in Freshwater Systems
Investigators: Herriges, Joseph A. , Lupi, Frank , Stevenson, R. Jan
Institution: Michigan State University
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: September 1, 2016 through August 31, 2019
Project Amount: $799,074
RFA: Water Quality Benefits (2015) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Water


The purpose of the research is to estimate the use and non-use values stemming from changes in nutrient loadings to the freshwater systems in Michigan (rivers, lakes and the Great Lakes). The advantage of this application is that it allows us to leverage existing water quality production models linking nutrient loads to a variety of ecosystem services that can be measured over a wide range of spatial scales, including an index of biological integrity and the biomass of individual sport and non-sport fish populations. This will, in turn, enable us to examine how use and non-use values change with the resource type (streams, lakes, and Great Lakes), the specific metric used to characterize them (e.g., water quality ladder, biological condition tiers, species biomass, or a continuous water quality index), and the spatial scale at which they are specified.


We will use and expand upon existing water quality production models to characterize, at a variety of spatial scales, the impact that changes in nutrient loadings have on the ecosystem services provided by the various freshwater systems in Michigan. Two surveys will then be fielded to gather information on both revealed and stated preferences for these ecosystem services. Focus groups, pre-tests and the survey instruments themselves will be used to assess public understanding and compare measures of use and non-use value based on physical measures of nutrients, levels of the water-quality ladder, and other quantified ecological conditions. Total willingness to pay (TWTP) will be decomposed into use and non-use components using three approaches: (1) comparing TWTP for user and non-users; (ii) estimating recreational use values and netting them out of TWTP; and (iii) jointly estimating a utility theoretic structure for both use and non-use values.

Expected Results:

We expect to advance the understanding of how use and non-use values vary with the nature of the resource being valued, the metric used to characterize the ecosystem services, and the spatial scale at which it is provided. Whereas some of these issues have been examined in meta-analyses of isolated case studies, the current project will address these issues in a controlled setting with an integrated model of the ecosystem services being valued, avoiding the potential confounding effects inherent in meta-analysis due the reliance on disparate study methods. We also plan to disseminate the results of the project through both conference presentations and professional journal articles.

Supplemental Keywords:

indicators, scaling, integrated assessment, preferences, contingent valuation, nonmarket valuation;

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2017 Progress Report
  • 2018