Economics of Ground-Water Monitoring: A Survey of Experts

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The cost of a monitoring program can be easily ascertained in terms of the expenditures incurred for such items as personnel, supplies, field visits, instrumentation and laboratory analyses. The benefits of a monitoring program, however, cannot be easily evaluated due to the diversity of objectives for which monitoring programs are initiated and operated. The case study and the results of the follow-up exploratory survey reported in this paper were intended to capture the objective as well as the subjective reasons employed by a group of experts in responding to selected socio-economic questions related to the design of monitoring programs. Ninety-seven individuals, through a formal questionnaire, participated in the survey. They showed definite preferences, although there was some variability in responses due to such factors as residential status, institutional affiliation, education, and the length of professional experience. It was clear that the respondents favored the inclusion of cost-effectiveness criteria in monitoring programs; were ambivalent to the idea of initiating a regulatory program to monitor the wells of a large number of private owners; and if such a program were to be initiated they recommended that individual well owners share the bulk of the financial burden. Preliminary results from such exploratory surveys can lead to the framing of insightful research questions or hypotheses for further evaluation. Confirmatory testing of such questions or hypotheses in real world settings is a valuable area for further research.

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Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, v. 22, issue 1, p. 39-56