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The Application and Usefulness of Economic Analyses for Water Quality Management in Coastal Areas
Jewhurst, S., K. Mulvaney, AND M. Mazzotta. The Application and Usefulness of Economic Analyses for Water Quality Management in Coastal Areas. Journal of Ocean and Coastal Economics (JOCE). Center for the Blue Economy, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, Monterey, CA, 4(1):Article 7, (2017).
The major pollutant of concern for many coastal ecosystems is nitrogen. Nitrogen management, like many coastal issues, is extremely complex. Determining the best combination of potential management alternatives, given the diversity of nitrogen sources within a watershed, is difficult. Economic analysis can contribute important information to these decisions. The paper reports on a set of interviews with estuary managers regarding their use of economic studies to inform nitrogen management. Based on the expressed needs of the managers, it suggests steps that managers and economists can take to improve the appropriate application of economics and its effectiveness for informing estuary management.
Economic studies are increasingly sought as tools to contribute to water quality management in estuaries and coastal communities, yet little is known about how the results from existing studies have been received and utilized by the organizations who solicited them. We interviewed managers from eight organizations who solicited economic studies over the past 15 years to understand how useful the studies were to their organizations and what economic research would be most helpful for their management needs. In terms of utility for coastal managers, there are a number of limitations in the studies. These include lack of site-specific data, the high cost of thorough studies, the appropriate application of methods, and receiving highly technical information that can be difficult to translate to the appropriate stakeholder audiences. Despite these drawbacks, we found the managers to be extremely positive about the usefulness of the economic studies, but in need of more research and localized data. Managers who embark upon economic analyses should take care to engage trained economists who can identify and implement appropriate methodologies to answer management questions, and who can help managers to interpret and communicate the findings. The coastal managers also identified specific areas of research that are most salient for their programs. These range from broad applications of economic analysis as a communication tool, to specific applications such as cost-effectiveness analyses of management actions. Overall, the interviews revealed great interest and utility in economic analyses, and also opportunities for conducting specific economic analyses to improve coastal decision making.
Record Details:Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Organization:U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
NATIONAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS RESEARCH LABORATORY
ATLANTIC ECOLOGY DIVISION
MONITORING AND ASSESSMENT BRANCH