USask projects ask, ‘what is water worth?’ – New

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But there is enormous non-market value for the vital liquid that goes far beyond the price utilities charge for domestic and industrial water use.

This vital aspect is generally not calculated by politicians and decision makers in Canada because this country simply does not collect the data or does not have the tools necessary to assess the value of the services that water provides to the environment. economy and society in general.

Now, an ambitious two-year project, co-led by University of Saskatchewan (USask) researcher Dr. Patrick Lloyd-Smith (PhD), aims to fill the knowledge gap with the largest coordinated effort ever in the Canada to establish what fresh water is worth. .

“Just because it’s priceless doesn’t mean it’s worthless,” he said.

Non-market valuation is a fairly active area of ​​environmental economics, said Lloyd-Smith, an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at USask’s College of Agriculture and Bioresources.

The services that freshwater provides – whether by naturally absorbing pollutants, serving as a repository for sewage, providing aesthetic value to landscapes, or providing a sense of well-being and security to Canadians concerned about impacts of climate change – generally remain unaccounted for, he said. .

“We want to improve water valuation estimates in Canada,” said Lloyd-Smith. “Canada really lags behind other parts of the world, like Europe and the United States, which have more comprehensive economic estimates of water quality and incorporate them into water quality decision making. sustainable use of water.

Lloyd-Smith, fellow resource economists Dr. Roy Brouwer (PhD), co-director of the University of Waterloo, Dr. Vic Adamowicz (PhD) of the University of Alberta and Dr. Diane Dupont (PhD) of Brock University, are working with UWaterloo water expert Dr. Helen Jarvie (PhD) to develop, test, and apply state-of-the-art freshwater assessment methods. The pan-Canadian Global Water Futures (GWF) program led by USask awarded the team $300,000 for the project.

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