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Valuing Ecological Improvements in the Chesapeake Bay and the Importance of Ancillary Benefits

  • Chris Moore (a1) (a2), Dennis Guignet (a3), Chris Dockins (a4), Kelly B. Maguire (a5) and Nathalie B. Simon (a6)...

Abstract

Reducing the excess nutrient and sediment pollution that is damaging habitat and diminishing recreational experiences in coastal estuaries requires actions by people and communities that are within the boundaries of the watershed but may be far from the resource itself, thus complicating efforts to understand tradeoffs associated with pollution control measures. Such is the case with the Chesapeake Bay, one of the most iconic water resources in the United States. All seven states containing part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed were required under the Clean Water Act to submit detailed plans to achieve nutrient and sediment pollution reductions. The implementation plans provide information on the location and type of management practices making it possible to project not only water quality improvements in the Chesapeake Bay but also improvements in freshwater lakes throughout the watershed, which provide important ancillary benefits to people bearing the cost of reducing pollution to the Bay but unlikely to benefit directly. This paper reports the results of a benefits study that links the forecasted water quality improvements to ecological endpoints and administers a stated preference survey to estimate use and nonuse value for aesthetic and ecological improvements in the Chesapeake Bay and watershed lakes. Our results show that ancillary benefits and nonuse values account for a substantial proportion of total willingness to pay and would have a significant impact on the net benefits of pollution reduction programs.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the US EPA. Although research in this paper may have been funded entirely or in part by the US EPA, it has not been subjected to formal Agency peer and policy review. No official Agency endorsement should be inferred. We thank Elena Besedin, Maureen Cropper, and Alan Krupnick for valuable guidance and feedback throughout the development of the survey used in this study. We also thank Kevin Boyle, John Whitehead, and Robert Johnston for comments on earlier drafts of the survey instrument, and thank Julie Hewitt, George Parsons, Dan Phaneuf, and Greg Poe for comments on earlier paper drafts. Finally, we thank Bryan Milstead, Gary Shenk, and Steve Newbold for providing the hydrological and ecological modeling results we used to forecast future baseline and policy conditions when estimating economic benefits.

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