Difficulties in describing the value of water are many. This Arroyo seeks to lay out those difficulties and then examine the concept of water’s value from various perspectives. The price of water is addressed first, as that is the first and most obvious aspect of value people in the United States encounter. This section answers the question, “What makes up the price typically paid for water supplied by water providers?” The next section looks into the costs facing water-using sectors that produce their water from groundwater or acquire it from raw water suppliers, such as the Central Arizona Project or the Salt River Project. The third section describes transactions in water, including water rights and long-term storage credits. The following three sections examine estimates of value that have been generated for water in the environment; values associated with effluent and reclaimed water; and the concept of virtual water. After presenting these various perspectives on the economic value of water, this Arroyo provides examples of non-monetary valuation based on water’s cultural and spiritual importance. The conclusion calls on readers to appreciate the challenge of understanding the value of water.
Arroyo, 16 pp., Water Resources Research Center, Tucson, AZ, 2014