Economic valuation of waste water: the cost of action and the cost of no action

Economic valuation of waste water: the cost of action and the cost of no action

The valuation of the benefits of action or, in other words, valuation of the costs of no action is necessary to justify suitable investments in wastewater management.

With only 8 per cent of the required capacity to treat wastewater effectively, low-income countries are the hardest hit by contaminated water supplies and resulting impacts: loss of ecosystem services and economic opportunities; climate change aggravation through wastewater-related emissions of methane and nitrous oxide; spreading of “Dead Zones” impacting fisheries, livelihoods and the food chain; and health impacts due to waterborne diseases.

Properly managed, wastewater could be a source of water, energy, fertilizer and other valuable materials and services. Each year approximately 330 km3 of municipal wastewater are generated globally.

A recent study showed that resources embedded in this wastewater would be enough to irrigate and fertilize millions of hectares of crops and produce biogas that could supply energy for millions of households. Adequate wastewater collection, treatment, and safe use or disposal can lead to significant environmental and health benefits.

From a business perspective, valuation of the costs of no action in wastewater management is necessary to justify suitable investment in this domain. Economic analysis provides the information needed for public policy decisions that support improvements in wastewater management.

[adapted from report foreword]

  1. How good is this research?

    Assessing the quality of research can be a tricky business. This blog from our editor offers some tools and tips.