Wednesday, March 31, 2010

An Assessment of Water Quality Benefits on Our Environment

In agricultural production practices, knowledge of benefits and costs to water users is required for any complete assessment of resources. An understanding of cost benefits also help to estimate incentives for water quality improving changes. Estimating the economic effects of changes in water quality on water users is complicated by the lack of organizes markets for environmental quality. This blog helps improve our understanding of the benefits of water quality on our environments and society in the long run.

Various conservation practices like field and buffer practices affect the amount of soil and nutrients leaving the field. The amounts of soil and nutrients actually leaving the field or watershed are estimated rather than the amounts mobilized. These provide a better indicator of resource benefits that accrue in neighboring waters or adjoining lands.
There are no observed prices with which to measure value. Instead, the economic effects are measured through observed changes in the behavior of water users. The types of water uses affected by changes in water quality include recreation, commercial fisheries, navigation, municipal water treatment and use, and reservoirs. Different programs will affect these components of social welfare to different degrees. In what follows, we consider both the components of social welfare and the techniques by which they can be measured. For example, pesticide regulation may increase consumer surplus(say, by permitting larger fish populations) at the expense of produce surplus, while cost- sharing of best management practices could enhance both producer and consumer surpluses, excluding consideration of government budgets.
Conservation reserve program (CRP) is designed to safeguard the natural resources and protect millions of acres of topsoil from erosion. CRP protects groundwater and helps improve the condition of lakes, rivers, ponds, and streams by reducing water runoff and sedimentation. CRP is considered as a major contributor to increased wildlife populations.

The benefits of improved water quality due to CRP are not only limited to increased agricultural productivity from replenished soils, but also include the well-being that enhanced wildlife habitat. This benefit also has an indirect effect on improved air quality, and carbon sequestration. Accurate and meaningful measures of changes in water quality are necessary if the CRP is to provide considerable environmental benefits. These measures provide an indication of the benefits due to enhanced water quality and increased carbon sequestration. Additionally, the economic impacts on commodity markets, government payments, and rural economies are taken into consideration to estimate the benefits of enhanced water quality. Indicators such as total acres enrolled and field-level erosion reductions certainly contribute to an argument that enhanced water quality benefits are very real and potentially large. Yet, they offer limited insight in terms of just how large because they cannot account for the fact that some fields may be better than others in terms of wildlife habitat provision. The absence of reliable indicators that would better convey the full spectrum of benefits presents a dilemma when assessing effectiveness and attempting to make refinements of water qualities. Consideration of water resource benefits on a national scale has also been frustrated by limited data and understanding of modeling capabilities.

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