Economic Impacts of Multiple Stresses

EPA Grant Number: R825433C018
Subproject: this is subproject number 018 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R825433
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: EERC - Center for Ecological Health Research (Cal Davis)
Center Director: Rolston, Dennis E.
Title: Economic Impacts of Multiple Stresses
Investigators: Layton, David , Wilen, James
Institution: University of California - Davis
EPA Project Officer: Levinson, Barbara
Project Period: October 1, 1996 through September 30, 2000
RFA: Exploratory Environmental Research Centers (1992) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Center for Ecological Health Research , Targeted Research

Objective:

This project seeks to evaluate the importance of cumulative impacts on multiple management endpoints to help decide which stresses are most important to reduce.

Approach:

Ecosystems with multiple stresses typically generate effects on many endpoints. Managers face the problem of evaluating the importance of the cumulative impacts on multiple endpoints from the multiple stresses and then tracing back through the complex chains of causation to make decisions about which stresses are most important to reduce, given a valuation of the impacts on end-points. This project focuses on the end-points. These are generally of most immediate concern to managers and policy makers, while technical staff and scientists often focus on the stressors and the ecosystem processes they affect. For optimal environmental decision-making, technical staff and scientists should be substantially influenced by the public's valuation of endpoints in the design of investigations leading to remediation. Normally, we want to concentrate resources on those problems that make the most difference to people.

During the 1996-97 period, the investigators completed analysis of survey data gathered during the summers of 1995 and 1996. During both summers they contacted visitors to Clear Lake at a variety of sites and distributed questionnaires asking about trip purposes and activities, expenditures, demographic information, trip origins, income, etc. In addition, investigators provided neutral descriptions of both the blue green algae problem and the mercury problem at Clear Lake, and asked questions aimed at eliciting recreationists' willingness to pay to help mitigate some of the environmental consequences of these problems. They distributed over 1300 surveys and got returns from over 57% of those handed out. We mixed formats so that respondents could evaluate clean up regimes for both programs and for separate programs, with the intent of determining how people view composite clean up activities.

During 1997-98 investigators compiled data and did preliminary analyses of responses in preparation for statistical estimation of mean willingness to pay for clean up activities. They then undertook a series of econometric investigations of respondents' willingness to pay. The scenarios that they had respondents analyze included measures to reduce sedimentation and other contributors to the algae problem so that the number of days of algae bloom were reduced to half of current levels. With respect to mercury, they had respondents assess a scenario where mercury concentrations were reduced by half and that fish caught would be safe for consumption. Respondents were asked if they would be willing to make a one time payment into a (hypothetical) Water Quality Improvement Trust Fund to attain these environmental improvements, assuming that other users paid the same amount. Investigators varied the hypothetical contributions and asked for simple yes/no responses. We then asked a second question with a higher or lower amount, depending upon whether the response to the first question was yes or no. This procedure is referred to as the double bounded dichotomous choice method of eliciting willingness to pay, and it has been found to have desirable properties when eliciting monetary values from individuals.

The analysis of the data collected reveals that the mean willingness to pay for the algae clean up scenario is approximately $31, when considered alone, with 95% confidence intervals of $27-35. For the mercury clean up scenario, our estimated willingness to pay was $29 with confidence intervals of $24-33. When we asked for willingness to pay for both projects, the mean response was $48 (with confidence intervals $42-53). These responses are reasonable in terms of other researchers' findings, and they also rule out the likelihood that individuals are just purchasing "moral satisfaction", which would show up with values for the joint project close to those for individual policies. The fact that the elicited values do not sum exactly to those for the joint project is also similar to findings by others and it poses some questions that need further investigation.

Expected Results:

Investigators expect to study a specific ecosystems with multiple stresses in order to assist managers who face the problem of evaluating the importance of the cumulative impacts on multiple endpoints and then tracing back through the complex chains of causation to make decisions about which stresses are most important to reduce, given a valuation of the impacts on end-points. This project hopes to use surveys and data analysis to determine willingness to pay by the public for environmental problems with a focus on the end-points. These are generally of most immediate concern to managers and policy makers, while technical staff and scientists often focus on the stressors and the ecosystem processes they affect. For optimal environmental decision-making, technical staff and scientists should be substantially influenced by the public's valuation of endpoints in the design of investigations leading to remediation.

Supplemental Keywords:

watershed, aquatic ecosystem restoration, Clear Lake, multiple stressors, economics, environmental decision making, willingness to pay, water quality., RFA, Economic, Social, & Behavioral Science Research Program, Scientific Discipline, Geographic Area, State, Economics, Environmental Monitoring, decision-making, Environmental Statistics, Ecological Risk Assessment, Ecology and Ecosystems, Social Science, Economics & Decision Making, ecosystem valuation, policy analysis, surveys, community involvement, policy making, watershed, ecosystem assessment, resource management, decision analysis, decision making, environmental decision making, environmental remediation, environmental impact comparison, economic issues, multiple stressors, aquatic ecosystems, aquatic resources, data analysis, preference survey, wetlands preservation, willingness to pay, California (CA), benefits assessment

Progress and Final Reports:

2000 Progress Report


Main Center Abstract and Reports:

R825433    EERC - Center for Ecological Health Research (Cal Davis)

Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
R825433C001 Potential for Long-Term Degradation of Wetland Water Quality Due to Natural Discharge of Polluted Groundwater
R825433C002 Sacramento River Watershed
R825433C003 Endocrine Disruption in Fish and Birds
R825433C004 Biomarkers of Exposure and Deleterious Effect: A Laboratory and Field Investigation
R825433C005 Fish Developmental Toxicity/Recruitment
R825433C006 Resolving Multiple Stressors by Biochemical Indicator Patterns and their Linkages to Adverse Effects on Benthic Invertebrate Patterns
R825433C007 Environmental Chemistry of Bioavailability in Sediments and Water Column
R825433C008 Reproduction of Birds and mammals in a terrestrial-aquatic interface
R825433C009 Modeling Ecosystems Under Combined Stress
R825433C010 Mercury Uptake by Fish
R825433C011 Clear Lake Watershed
R825433C012 The Role of Fishes as Transporters of Mercury
R825433C013 Wetlands Restoration
R825433C014 Wildlife Bioaccumulation and Effects
R825433C015 Microbiology of Mercury Methylation in Sediments
R825433C016 Hg and Fe Biogeochemistry
R825433C017 Water Motions and Material Transport
R825433C018 Economic Impacts of Multiple Stresses
R825433C019 The History of Anthropogenic Effects
R825433C020 Wetland Restoration
R825433C021 Sierra Nevada Watershed Project
R825433C022 Regional Transport of Air Pollutants and Exposure of Sierra Nevada Forests to Ozone
R825433C023 Biomarkers of Ozone Damage to Sierra Nevada Vegetation
R825433C024 Effects of Air Pollution on Water Quality: Emission of MTBE and Other Pollutants From Motorized Watercraft
R825433C025 Regional Movement of Toxics
R825433C026 Effect of Photochemical Reactions in Fog Drops and Aerosol Particles on the Fate of Atmospheric Chemicals in the Central Valley
R825433C027 Source Load Modeling for Sediment in Mountainous Watersheds
R825433C028 Stress of Increased Sediment Loading on Lake and Stream Function
R825433C029 Watershed Response to Natural and Anthropogenic Stress: Lake Tahoe Nutrient Budget
R825433C030 Mercury Distribution and Cycling in Sierra Nevada Waterbodies
R825433C031 Pre-contact Forest Structure
R825433C032 Identification and distribution of pest complexes in relation to late seral/old growth forest structure in the Lake Tahoe watershed
R825433C033 Subalpine Marsh Plant Communities as Early Indicators of Ecosystem Stress
R825433C034 Regional Hydrogeology and Contaminant Transport in a Sierra Nevada Ecosystem
R825433C035 Border Rivers Watershed
R825433C036 Toxicity Studies
R825433C037 Watershed Assessment
R825433C038 Microbiological Processes in Sediments
R825433C039 Analytical and Biomarkers Core
R825433C040 Organic Analysis
R825433C041 Inorganic Analysis
R825433C042 Immunoassay and Serum Markers
R825433C043 Sensitive Biomarkers to Detect Biochemical Changes Indicating Multiple Stresses Including Chemically Induced Stresses
R825433C044 Molecular, Cellular and Animal Biomarkers of Exposure and Effect
R825433C045 Microbial Community Assays
R825433C046 Cumulative and Integrative Biochemical Indicators
R825433C047 Mercury and Iron Biogeochemistry
R825433C048 Transport and Fate Core
R825433C049 Role of Hydrogeologic Processes in Alpine Ecosystem Health
R825433C050 Regional Hydrologic Modeling With Emphasis on Watershed-Scale Environmental Stresses
R825433C051 Development of Pollutant Fate and Transport Models for Use in Terrestrial Ecosystem Exposure Assessment
R825433C052 Pesticide Transport in Subsurface and Surface Water Systems
R825433C053 Currents in Clear Lake
R825433C054 Data Integration and Decision Support Core
R825433C055 Spatial Patterns and Biodiversity
R825433C056 Modeling Transport in Aquatic Systems
R825433C057 Spatial and Temporal Trends in Water Quality
R825433C058 Time Series Analysis and Modeling Ecological Risk
R825433C059 WWW/Outreach
R825433C060 Economic Effects of Multiple Stresses
R825433C061 Effects of Nutrients on Algal Growth
R825433C062 Nutrient Loading
R825433C063 Subalpine Wetlands as Early Indicators of Ecosystem Stress
R825433C064 Chlorinated Hydrocarbons
R825433C065 Sierra Ozone Studies
R825433C066 Assessment of Multiple Stresses on Soil Microbial Communities
R825433C067 Terrestrial - Agriculture
R825433C069 Molecular Epidemiology Core
R825433C070 Serum Markers of Environmental Stress
R825433C071 Development of Sensitive Biomarkers Based on Chemically Induced Changes in Expressions of Oncogenes
R825433C072 Molecular Monitoring of Microbial Populations
R825433C073 Aquatic - Rivers and Estuaries
R825433C074 Border Rivers - Toxicity Studies