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Clear Water Lake

Water Resource Economics & Planning

With increasing water scarcity, extreme weather events, and threats to water quality, high quality watershed planning and understanding the value of our water sources is more important than ever. While our team has worked in many sectors, in nearly all of our projects, the economics regarding the use and allocation of water is a key component of our work.


Many of our projects are related to federal water resources planning, and we are experienced in applying the principles, requirements, and guidelines to conduct cost benefit analyses (or National Economic Efficiency or NEE analyses) for such projects for the Bureau of Reclamation, Natural Resources Conservation Service (PL-566 Watershed Plans), Army Corps of Engineers, and other agencies.


At Highland Economics, we help our clients to understand and value:


  • Water rights


  • Irrigation water supplies


  • Instream flows for recreation and environmental services


  • Economic consequences of reallocating water

  • Costs and benefits of water quality regulations

  • Flood control benefits


  • Socioeconomic and environmental justice effects of water policy


  • Economic feasibility of industrial and agricultural uses of water


We also provide water planning services, including water demand forecasting and analysis of alternative strategies to meet demand or mitigate shortages.  Water forecasting work relies extensively on demographics and forecasted population growth.  Highland economics also provides water quality services and cost benefit analysis of water resources.


Throughout their careers, Highland economists have valued water and estimated its economic contribution in agricultural, municipal, industrial, and instream flow uses throughout the United States, including in Washington, Oregon, California, Montana, Nevada, Idaho, New Mexico, Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, Florida, Tennessee, Texas, and Illinois.

Selected Water Economics Projects


Water as a Benefit of Land Use


Highland Economics was hired to estimate the total economic value of an ecologically important area under three land use scenarios with contrasting benefits. We included in the study economic values associated with agricultural production, water supply, water quality, recreation, biodiversity, and volunteer labor. We used @Risk software to conduct sensitivity analyses and run Monte Carlo simulations, which tested our assumptions and provided a range of likely values. Our analysis will be used to help inform decision-making regarding the management of the study area.

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