Water resources provide goods and services that benefit various water users in local, regional and national economies and societies. These goods and services refer to water as a source for the production of drinking water, food or energy, and water as a sink for wastewater after water has been used for manufacturing or household consumption.

Some of these goods and services are traded in economic markets and can be valued directly in economic terms based on their market prices, such as fish or drinking water, while others are seemingly provided free of charge, such as water’s natural pollution absorption capacity or aesthetic landscape views. These latter non-market values and benefits are typically ignored in policy and decision-making due to the absence of a price.

The lack of economic evidence and decision-making tools in Canada undermines our ability to efficiently and sustainably manage water resources. In this context, this project aims to answer three closely related questions, which can be summarized as the what?, why? and how? of economic valuation of surface and groundwater resources in Canada.

Expected project deliverables are:

(1) The development of state-of-the-art valuation guidelines for water practitioners to better inform sustainable water policy and decision-making

(2) The testing of the guidelines in representative case studies across Canada, focusing on investment decisions in a wide variety of water quality management contexts

(3) The connection between the economic valuation of aquatic ecosystem services to available water quality monitoring data and policy-relevant biophysical indicators, and

(4) The set up a geo-referenced national data and information system for the socio-economic values of relevant aquatic ecosystem services across Canada.

The research in this project is funded by Global Water Futures.