What is Water Worth? Valuing Canada’s Water Resources and Aquatic Ecosystem Services

Principal Investigators: Roy Brouwer (University of Waterloo), Patrick Lloyd-Smith (University of Saskatchewan)

Co-Investigators: Vic Adamowicz (University of Alberta), Diane Dupont (Brock University), Helen Jarvie (University of Waterloo)

Project Overview

Decision-maker demand for the socio-economic value of water has increased significantly over the past years. However, there is a paucity of value estimates in Canada, and it remains a major challenge to estimate the monetary worth of the flow of goods and services provided by freshwater resources for the Canadian economy and society at large. The lack of economic evidence and decision-making tools seriously undermines our ability to efficiently and sustainably manage water resources in Canada.

This project is the first attempt to pull together the available expertise to develop and test guidelines for the economic valuation of freshwater resources in Canada and operationalize an integrated water quality valuation model. This project will represent the largest coordinated water valuation research program in Canada ever. It will develop, test and apply reliable and robust state-of-the-art valuation methods and techniques for aquatic ecosystem services in different water quality policy contexts across the Canadian landscape.

The central objective is to advance our understanding of the socio-economic value of water in Canada by developing best practice guidelines, providing new empirical evidence, and advancing new policy-relevant decision-support tools. We will draw upon the technical expertise of the applicants of this proposal and their international experiences and networks in water resources valuation. Besides new social and policy sciences research, the proposal also includes a strong knowledge mobilization component, where the potential use and usefulness of economic valuation in sustainable water resources management will be addressed, using both Canadian and international examples, to help decision-makers and practitioners assess the benefits and return on investment of improving the quality of Canada’s freshwater resources.