2020 Progress Report: Valuing Water Quality Improvements in Midwestern Ecosystems: SpatialVariability, Validity and Extent of the Market for Total Value

EPA Grant Number: R836166
Title: Valuing Water Quality Improvements in Midwestern Ecosystems: SpatialVariability, Validity and Extent of the Market for Total Value
Investigators: Kling, Catherine L. , Phaneuf, Daniel J. , Zhao, Jinhua , Vossler, Christian , Keiser, David A , Finlay, Jacques C
Institution: Iowa State University , Michigan State University , University of Tennessee , University of Wisconsin - Madison , University of Minnesota
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: April 1, 2016 through March 31, 2021 (Extended to March 31, 2023)
Project Period Covered by this Report: April 1, 2020 through March 31,2021
Project Amount: $800,000
RFA: Water Quality Benefits (2015) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Water


Objective 1: Develop organizational and conceptual frameworks for integrating the project’s hydrological, ecological, and economic models at common spatial and temporal scales, with compatible model inputs and outputs.

Objective 2: Develop and quantify a spatially scalable ecological services production function linking ambient water quality (e.g. nutrient concentrations) to ecological outputs.   

Objective 3: Investigate the mechanisms through which water quality enters households’ preferences and creates economic value, as mediated by the ecological services production function and the spatial distribution of quality outcomes.

Objective 4: Field a large state-of-the-art, spatially scalable stated and revealed preference survey to estimate willingness to pay for changes in nutrient-sensitive aquatic ecosystem services.   

Objective 5: Conduct real payment field experiments to establish the validity of our stated preference estimates of willingness to pay.   

Objective 6: Produce an Integrated Assessment Model (IAM) to estimate the economic benefits of counterfactual policy scenarios, whereby changes in pollution loads at points in space are mapped to changes in ambient water quality across the landscape, and ultimately to changes in ecosystem services and human values.

Progress Summary:

Objectives 1 and 2 are largely complete. For Objective #2, we are still working to finalize a statistical model that links BCG levels of nutrient pollution.

Objective 3, defined in this report to include our efforts to ‘define the commodity’ for use in our stated preference survey is nearly complete. We have incorporated the graphics and description of the good into our survey and are pre-testing it before launching the full survey.

We are nearing a launch of the full survey (Objective 4). We have secured a contract with Qualtrics and hope to launch the survey Summer 2021. We have pre-tested versions of the survey with Amazon’s MTurk and will conduct some more minor pre-testing in Qualtrics before launching the survey.

As before, progress towards objective 5 has been minimal, as expected. The development and implementation of a field experiment will occur largely after the complete development of the primary stated preference instrument.

Progress on objective 6 continues to be steady.  We have invested heavily in hydrological modeling both within our own research team and in facilitating partnerships with the world’s top SWAT modelers.  Our broader research agenda on integrated assessment has moved forward via a workshop we hosted in April 2019, another planned in 2020 (but cancelled due to COVID), and another workshop in 2021, and several other complementary efforts. 

Future Activities:

Our next major focus will finalizing and fielding our large SP survey summer of 2021. Simultaneously we will continue our efforts on the ecological and hydrological modeling, with the goal of having a preliminary integrated assessment model ready for piloting in the next 12 months. 

Journal Articles on this Report : 5 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other project views: All 19 publications 5 publications in selected types All 5 journal articles
Type Citation Project Document Sources
Journal Article Polasky S, Kling CA, Levin SA, Carpenter SR, Daily GC, Ehrlich PR, Heal GM, Lubchenco J. Role of economics in analyzing the environment and sustainable development. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2019;116(12):5233-5238. R836166 (2018)
R836166 (2019)
R836166 (2020)
  • Full-text from PubMed
  • Full-text: PNAS Full Text HTML and PDF
  • Abstract: PNAS - Abstract and PDF - HTML
  • Journal Article Keiser DA, Kling CL, Shapiro JS. The low but uncertain measured benefits of US water quality policy Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2019;116(12):5262-5269. R836166 (2018)
    R836166 (2019)
    R836166 (2020)
  • Full-text from PubMed
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Full-text: PNAS - Full Text HTML and PDF
  • Journal Article Dolph CL, Boardman E, Danesh‐Yazdi M, Finlay JC, Hansen AT, Baker AC, Dalzell B. Phosphorus transport in intensively managed watersheds. Water Resources Research 2019;55(11):9148-72. R836166 (2020)
  • Full-text: AGU Full Text- HTML
  • Journal Article Cho SJ, Braudrick CA, Dolph CL, Day SS, Dalzell BJ, Wilcock PR. Simulation of fluvial sediment dynamics through strategic assessment of stream gaging data:A targeted watershed sediment loading analysis. Journal of Environmental Management 2021;277:111420. R836166 (2020)
  • Full-text: ScienceDirect Full Text -HTML
  • Abstract: Science Direct Abstract-HTML
  • Journal Article Terui A, Kim S, Dolph CL, Kadoya T, Miyazaki Y. Ecosystem size and complexity dictate riverine biodiversity. bioRxiv 2021. R836166 (2020)
  • Full-text: BioRXiv Full Text-HTML
  • Supplemental Keywords:

    Water quality, non-market valuation, stated preference survey, biological condition gradient, integrated assessment model

    Relevant Websites:

    Social Cost of Water Pollution Workshop Exit

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 2016 Progress Report
  • 2017 Progress Report
  • 2018 Progress Report
  • 2019 Progress Report