Focus Areas


Evaluating the value of water to society and economic trade-offs for water-related decisions

The earth’s freshwater resources and ecosystems are natural assets and their value to society depends on how they are managed and protected. Stakeholders—including water utilities, hydropower generators, local governments and conservation organizations—share a common interest and need to identify where future damages and costs can be avoided through nature-based and other investments.

The RTI Center for Water Resources provides hydro-economic solutions through our combined expertise in both the natural and social sciences. We can help you evaluate economic trade-offs and optimize the management of water and other natural resources. This integrated approach is essential for capturing the connections between humans and natural systems and for analyzing the value of water resources and aquatic ecosystems to society.

One primary challenge that decision-makers face is how to maximize water’s value for current and future use when faced with limited budgets, uncertain future conditions and competing demands. We address these challenges by providing sophisticated, practical decision-support tools and analyses that combine the following:

  • Economic valuation methods for measuring water resources benefits and ecosystem services, including nonmarket valuation approaches
  • Watershed-based hydrologic, ecological and water-quality modeling
  • Economic simulation and optimization modeling
  • Cost-benefit and return-on-investment analyses for evaluating water infrastructure, management and policy decisions
  • Econometric methods for analyzing micro-level, spatial and time-series data

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