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

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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

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

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 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.

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