The Environmental Protection Agency recently reported a deterioration of water quality at hundreds of water bodies around the country between 2013 and 2015, though there were improvements at a similar number of other water bodies. Just 21 sites achieved the highest quality rating compared to over 500 sites in the late 1980s. Water pollution has many impacts across the economy and society, including the potential to hinder water-based recreational activity.
This research investigates how water quality can impact on recreational activity. Two analyses are undertaken. First, recreational site choice decisions are examined; identifying the extent to which water quality levels at recreational sites affect the decision of which site recreational users begin their water based activity. This part of the research is confined to boating activity. Second, recreational trip durations are considered; identifying the extent to which water quality levels at recreational sites affects the length of the trip.
The premise here is that recreational users undertake trips of longer duration at sites with better water quality. Four categories of recreational users are considered in the trip duration analysis: anglers; boaters; those engaged other water sports (e.g. canoeing, water skiing, rowing, etc.); and those engaged in activities for which access to water is not essential, specifically walking and cycling. The results show that people engaged in water-based leisure activities are responsive to water quality conditions.
John Curtis is an applied micro-economist, with a focus on energy and environmental policy issues. He manages the Research Programme on Socio-economics of Inland Fisheries and is joint programme coordinator for the energy and environment research area. John is a member of the Royal Irish Academy’s Climate Change and Environmental Sciences committee; inter-departmental working group on economics for the Water Framework Directive; inter-departmental Water Statistics Steering Group; and the ESRI-TCD Alliance Steering Group.
John joined the ESRI in 2011, and his former posts include lead economist at the Environmental Protection Agency, economist at the Environmental Defense Fund (New York), and previously as a Research Officer at the ESRI. He has a PhD in Environmental Economics from the University of Maryland, and both a BA and MA in Economics from UCD.
John’s energy research focuses primarily on micro level issues such as residential energy efficiency but has also covered topics related to renewables integration and emissions. His energy research is published in journals such as Applied Economics, Energy Policy, Applied Energy, Economics of Energy and Environmental Policy, and Sustainable Cities and Society. On environmental issues his research has addressed topics related to water quality, fisheries, and resource management with papers published in journals such as Applied Economic Letters, Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism, Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, and the Economic and Social Review.
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The ESRI organises a public seminar series, inviting researchers from both the ESRI and other institutions to present new research on a variety of public policy issues. The seminar series provides access to specialised knowledge and new research methodologies, with the objective of promoting research excellence and facilitating productive dialogue across the policy and research fields.