Selected Empirical Analyses
New Horizons in Environmental Economics series
Edited by Phoebe Koundouri
Chapter 8: Contingent ranking of river water quality improvements
Stavros Georgiou, Ian Bateman, Matthew Cole and David Hadley 1. BACKGROUND The River Tame rises as three tributaries in the urbanized areas of Wolverhampton, Walsall and Oldbury before ﬂowing through the city of Birmingham. It then turns north and eventually ﬂows into the River Trent which, in turn, drains into the North Sea. The river was once a small, high quality stream, but, during the last century, as industrial activity and population began to increase in the West Midlands region, the water quality of the river began to suﬀer. The last salmon were seen in the river in 1876 and by 1945 the river was dead, devoid of all life (Environment Agency, 1998). Since then there has been some improvement in water quality due to improvements in sewerage systems. However, the water quality of the river as it ﬂows through the Metropolitan West Midlands region is still classiﬁed by the Environment Agency as very poor. This means that only very pollution tolerant life is supported in small numbers, for example, snails, worms, leaches and a few small ﬁsh (sticklebacks) as well as limited numbers of aquatic plants. Additionally, the water in the river is hazardous to human health because of high bacterial levels and it is deﬁnitely not suitable for water-based recreational activities. There are a number of diﬀerent sources of pollution that cause this poor state of water quality. Eﬄuent from sewage works remains a problem although these facilities are currently being improved (Environment...
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