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Existence Values for Groundwater (1989)

Paper Number: EE-0002

Document Date: 05/01/1989

Author(s):  Mitchell, Robert Cameron; Carson, Richard T.

Subject Area(s): Economic Analysis,  Water Quality, Benefit Analysis, Contingent Valuation, Stated Preference Methods

Keywords: Economic Analysis,  Water Quality, Benefit Analysis, Contingent Valuation, Stated Preference Methods

Abstract: 

This study reports the findings of a preliminary investigation into the existence (nonuse) values people hold for groundwater resources and how these values can be measured for use in benefit/cost analysis. The study focused on a groundwater resource of drinkable quality that is located far from the participants' homes and is not now and is likely not in the future to be needed for human use (owing to the availability of substitutes) on the assumption that people's willingness to pay for protecting this type of resource from contamination will stem from existence values. Five focus groups where conducted in four cities--Baltimore, Worcester, Princeton, and Hartford--to explore in depth people's groundwater knowledge and concerns, and their protection preferences for this type of groundwater. In each group it was found that people's knowledge about groundwater is limited and that they mistakenly assume that contaminant plumes travel underground at very rapid rates. After steps were taken to correct this assumption, their preferences for preserving nonuse groundwater were explored.

This paper is part of the  Environmental Economics Research Inventory.

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  • Existence Values for Groundwater Protection (1989) (PDF)(212 pp, 47 MB, 05/01/1989, EE-0002)
    This reports findings of a preliminary investigation into the existence (nonuse) values people hold for groundwater resources and how these values can be measured for use in benefit/cost analysis. The study focused on a groundwater resource of drinkable quality that is located far from the participants' homes and is not now and is likely not in the future to be needed for human use (owing to the availability of substitutes) so as to determine the existence value for the resource.