Economic Analyses of Water Quality Standards

Economic Analyses of Water Quality Standards

When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) disapproves state-level standards it promulgates alternative state-level Water Quality Standards (WQS). Through partnerships with Abt Associates and Horsley Witten, GTSI has provided economic analysis support for several of these rules at the proposed and final rule stages, including selenium standards in California, aluminum standards in Oregon, human health criteria in Washington, and all parameters in Tribal lands. These analyses involve developing and implementing rule-specific models that estimate the potential point and nonpoint source costs associated with state implementation of the rules. These models account for the availability and format of available datasets and accommodate changes to criteria values and key assumptions on a quick turn-around basis. In some cases, GTSI has also developed qualitative assessments of potential benefits from the rules.

For point source cost estimates, these analyses typically entail identifying potentially affected dischargers, conducting an analysis to determine whether each facility has reasonable potential to exceed baseline or revised criteria, calculating potential revised effluent limitations, identifying control technologies for each affected facility and pollutant, and estimating costs associated with compliance. For nonpoint source cost estimates, these analyses entail the assessment of available water quality monitoring data to identify the waters that may be incrementally impaired under the rule pursuant to the state’s monitoring and assessment procedures, estimating state costs to develop Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs), and, when applicable, control costs for nonpoint sources such as agriculture and urban discharge.

Services: Environmental and Natural Resource Policy Analysis