Measuring the Benefits of the Water Framework Directive Program in England and Wales

The Situation

The UK Collaborative Research Programme hired NERA and a data collection firm to design an extensive research program to evaluate the value, in monetary terms, of the potential benefits of new European Community (EC) legislation known as the Water Framework Directive (WFD). The WFD directed all participating countries to improve all water bodies located within their boundaries (including lakes, rivers, and coastal waters). Individual countries were tasked with evaluating which programs of improvements to initiate first and which would bring about greatest benefit to citizens. The Collaborative Research Programme also needed evidence demonstrating whether, and under what circumstances, it would be disproportionately costly to improve to "good status." Under the WFD, water environments shown to be too costly to achieve mandated status in the allotted time frame would be allowed a longer period of time for improvement or a less stringent status.

NERA's Role

NERA designed and conducted an exhaustive research program that included focus groups and interviews with stakeholders. The preliminary research allowed NERA to carefully remove potential sources of bias and test a variety of visual and textual materials necessary to convey to average consumers the personal costs as well as the complicated environmental benefits of various water improvement packages. NERA and the data collection agency conducted a national stated preference survey. The survey was conducted at a variety of locations across England and Wales and a total of 1,487 individuals completed the questionnaire.

The Result

The results of the research were used to inform policy decisions necessary to comply with upcoming EC legislation.