Economic Valuation of River Systems
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Economic Valuation of River Systems

  • New Horizons in Environmental Economics series

Edited by Fred J. Hitzhusen

The book applies benefit–cost analysis and a wide array of non-market and distribution economic valuation methods in ecologic context to determine the pay-off and distribution impacts of various infrastructure and water quality improvements to eight river systems in the Great Lakes region of the US. The generally positive results have important implications for public policy and future research.
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Chapter 9: Economic Efficiency and Distribution Evaluation of Dredging of Toxic Sediments and Selected Dam Removal in the Mahoning River

Ashraf Abdul-Mohsen and Fred J. Hitzhusen

Extract

9. Economic efficiency and distribution evaluation of dredging of toxic sediments and selected dam removal in the Mahoning River Ashraf Abdul-Mohsen and Fred J. Hitzhusen INTRODUCTION Contingent valuation (CV) has been used extensively to value nonmarketed environmental resources and public policies. Despite its sound theoretical background as a direct measure of welfare change and its ability to measure nonuse (existence) values, the validity of CV hypothetical estimates of value is still being debated. Of equal importance is the issue of equity or income distribution impacts of environmental change and how to incorporate equity into public policy analysis without sacrificing economic efficiency. This chapter examines the theoretical validity of dichotomous choice CV as well as the distributional effects of river contamination and clean-up including stated preference evaluation of environmental improvements. The study case is restoring the Lower Mahoning River in northeast Ohio through dredging of toxics and/or selected dam removal. The Mahoning River drains 1133 square miles in northeastern Ohio and northwestern Pennsylvania. Over the years, sediments in the river have become contaminated with a variety of chemicals. Contaminated sediments in the river are primarily from waste disposal of the steel and related industries, which were operating along the riverbanks, as well as waste disposal from adjacent communities into the river. Although pollutants’ concentrations in the water are now lower than before 1970 (USACE, 1999), some hazardous chemicals such as polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heavy metals are still absorbed in the bottom sediments and prevent recovery...

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