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.