The Value of Improved Public Services: An Application of the Choice Experiment Method to Estimate the Value of Improved Wastewater Treatment Infrastructure in India

Ekin Birol, Sukanya Das
JEL codes: 
Working Paper 51/2010

In this paper we employ a stated preference environmental valuation technique, namely the choice experiment method, to estimate local publics willingness to pay (WTP) for improvements in the capacity and technology of a sewage treatment plant (STP) in Chandernagore municipality, located on the banks of the River Ganga in India. A pilot choice experiment study is administered to 150 randomly selected Chandernagore residents and the data are analysed using the conditional logit model with interactions. The results reveal that residents of this municipality are willing to pay significant amounts in terms of higher monthly municipality taxes to ensure the full capacity of the STP is used for primary treatment and the technology is upgraded to enable secondary treatment. Overall, the results reported in this paper supports increased investments to improve the capacity and technology of STPs to reduce water pollution, and hence environmental and health risks that are currently threatening the sustainability of the economic, cultural and religious values this sacred river generates.