The Water Framework Directive (WFD) seeks to achieve good ecological status of surface waters across the European Union by 2027. The WFD guidelines explicitly recognize the economics of water management by providing exceptions to water areas with disproportionately high restoration costs. This calls indirectly for estimations of benefits lost due to non-attainment. We employ a hedonic property pricing approach on waterfront recreational properties to estimate the welfare impacts of attaining the good ecological status described by the WFD. The empirical challenge is that the quality measure proposed by the WFD specifically denotes ecological quality, whereas economically measurable water quality values are heavily dependent on recreation impacts. Intuitively, the choice of water quality measure should have an effect on estimating the value of water quality. Our data provide a unique chance to compare three alternative indicators of water quality: (1) a usability-based index, (2) subjectively reported measure and (3) the ecological status determined by the WFD. We find that an improvement in water quality is associated with a statistically significant, non-linear change in recreational property values. We show how the ecological status compares with the other two indicators, and discuss the justifiability of using revealed preference methods when the valued good is defined purely on the basis of ecological criteria.
Environmental and Resource Economics – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 28, 2016
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