Willingness to Pay for Groundwater Protection
Jordan, Jeffrey L.
Elnagheeb, Abdelmoeim H.
Hargrove, William L.
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Increasing chemical use has enhanced agricultural production and helped provide reliable supplies of food and fiber at reasonable costs. However, the same practice represents one of the main non-point sources of groundwater contamination. Yet groundwater is a source of drinking water for almost 50 percent of the US population. Rural Americans obtain over 97 percent of their drinking water from underground sources. In Georgia, over 500,000 private wells are not under federal, state, or local regulations for testing. Of these wells, 25 percent are shallow (less than 75 feet deep) and are at the highest risk for nitrate contamination (EPA, 1986). For these reasons, several agencies are developing strategies to reduce risks to water quality associated with chemical use. Programs to encourage lower chemical use are part of the 1990 farm bill. However, these programs, and potentially lower yields and higher food prices, represent a cost for groundwater protection. An important question is how much the public is willing to pay for improvements in water quality resulting from changes in agricultural practices? This study will explore people's preferences for clean water and attempt to estimate their willingness-to-pay (WTP) for improved water quality resulting from certain agricultural practices.