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GLIN==> Estimating Economic Benefits of Cleaning Up Contaminated Sediments in Great Lakes Areas of Concern

A New Publication from Wisconsin Sea Grant...


Estimating Economic Benefits of Cleaning Up Contaminated Sediments in Great Lakes Areas of Concern


By John R. Stoll, Richard C. Bishop, and J. Philip Keillor



Estimating the benefits of cleaning up contaminated sediments in the Great Lakes poses significant challenges for economists, resource managers, policy-makers, and concerned citizens.  A new publication from Wisconsin Sea Grant tackles that challenge.


The 87-page book describes a two-stage approach to estimating the value the public places on large-scale cleanup projects and comparing that value to the estimated costs of the projects.  The authors describe their approach via a case study of the proposed cleanup of the Fox River in northeast Wisconsin.  The analysis is offered as an example only, and the authors make no specific recommendations regarding the proposed Fox River clean-up.


The first phase is a "scoping study," which assesses what can easily be learned about potential benefits and costs from previously conducted studies.  In some cases, this phase may provide a sufficiently accurate estimate of costs and benefits.  In other cases, a second stage, involving a deeper investigation, may be necessary.  The scoping study can help determine which of several approaches to the deeper investigation is most appropriate.


The authors discuss five methods of analysis that may be used in the second stage:  benefits transfer, market valuation studies, travel cost demand estimation, hedonic methods, and contingent valuation (CV).  The authors find the CV method most appropriate for the Fox River example because it incorporates the values of remediation to both users and nonusers of the river. 


A CV approach uses survey methods to estimate values of environmental amenities to citizens.  The report describes a survey conducted by the lead author in which a sample of Wisconsin citizens were asked what they would be willing to pay to achieve various levels of cleanup.  The results are discussed, and a sample survey document is included. 


The benefits analysis used as an example was funded by the Great Lakes Protection Fund, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Great Lakes National Program Office, and Wisconsin Sea Grant.


This new publication will be a valuable guide to policymakers, resource managers, and economists faced with weighing the benefits and the estimated costs of cleaning up contaminated sediments in Great Lakes Areas of Concern and elsewhere.  The price is $5.00, and it may be ordered from Wisconsin Sea Grant, (608) 263-3259 or linda@seagrant.wisc.edu.