The value of restoring urban drains to living streams

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    33 Citations (Scopus)


    Many urban streams have been cleared of native vegetation and converted to open drains resulting in a loss of ecological and aesthetic function. There is a growing recognition of the importance of these functions and work is being done to restore urban drains and create fully functioning wetland ecosystems (“living streams”). Such restoration work involves substantial cost, and it is important to know if the benefits generated from “living streams” are greater than restoration costs. This paper presents a detailed economic analysis of an urban drain restoration project in Perth, Western Australia. Controlling for other factors, we find homes within 200 m of the restoration site increased in value by 4.7% once the restored area became fully established. When we compare benefits to cost we find that, with real discount rates of 5%, 7%, and 9%, project benefit−cost ratios are 3.0, 2.8 and 2.6, respectively. We then show that current institutional arrangements in Western Australia make it difficult to implement urban drain restoration projects, even when project benefits are greater than project costs. The paper concludes by identifying changes to institutional and governance arrangements that would make it easier for restoration projects to proceed. © 2016 Elsevier B.V.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)42-55
    Number of pages14
    JournalWater Resources and Economics
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017


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