The Project

The WaterPlan-Project aims at improving the protection of drinking water sources. The economic value of a safe access to source water of good quality is used in combination with risk assessment and ecosystem services to evaluate protective measures.


The aim of the project is to enable a well-informed analyses and prioritization of measures for protecting drinking water sources as part of future urban development. Access to drinking water of good quality is fundamental to a sustainable society. In addition to providing drinking water, water   resources constitute a necessary part in the supply of other goods and services, such as food products, energy and cultural and aesthetic services. Human activities, increased water demand and climate change create significant risks for water resources. For long-term water protection various actions are implemented in accordance with Swedish and EU legislations and norms, e.g. water protection areas. A deficiency in prioritization and design of risk reduction measures in Sweden is a lack of a basis to motivate the measures, considering positive and negative effects on society. Major project parts are: (1) Characterization of drinking water sources and identification of services, risks and effects, (2) Economic valuation of protective measures for drinking water sources based on value transfer and primary valuation studies; and (3) Economic decision analysis of water protective measures. The project gives new knowledge and decision support for prioritizing water protection in Sweden. This project integrates the fields of risk assessment, civil engineering and environmental economics. The project is performed in collaboration with water utilities and includes three case-studies.


WP 1: Characterization of drinking water sources and identification of services, risks and effects

Tasks and method: Swedish drinking water sources vary in their character, e.g. being groundwater or surface water sources, being close to- or far away from the users, having few or many substitutes, representing natural environments with high or low biodiversity, having a range of different geological and ecological characteristics. We will identify the characteristics driving current and future risk as well as current and future benefits being provided to society. The benefits mapping will be based on drinking water as well as other services in line with descriptions and ecosystem service classifications. Relevant risks will be identified and estimated based on previous studies and ongoing research projects within the project group and in collaboration with representatives from water utilities and authorities. Welfare consequences in terms of individuals’ well-being, and also potential effects of a more socio-cultural character, from risks and risk reduction measures will be mapped in the three case studies using interviews or focus groups. Possible scenarios and the link between risks, services and effects will be structured using e.g. logic models or tools for mapping causes and effects in complex sociotechnical systems.

Expected outcome: This WP will provide a comprehensive map showing how natural and anthropogenic preconditions are linked to the services provided by drinking water sources and the final benefits they are related to. The possible welfare consequences related to different source waters and risks, serves as a basis for identifying necessary valuation studies and is an important input to designing the new primary valuation studies in WP2. An important additional outcome is guidance on how to perform risk assessments of source waters.


WP 2: Economic valuation of protective measures for drinking water sources

Tasks and method: Based on the identification of welfare consequences in WP1, a thorough international literature search for relevant valuation results will be undertaken. The results most suitable for benefit transfer to the case study conditions will be identified. The benefit transfer is subsequently combined with primary valuation studies through SP methods, partly for enabling evaluation of transfer errors and partly for monetizing those welfare consequences for which relevant valuation results are absent. Based on the literature review and the findings of WP1, suitable cases for primary studies will be selected to fill the most important information gaps. The value per se of protection in a long-term perspective will be subject to particular attention. The applications of benefit transfer and SP methods will take recommendations into account, which imply, inter alia, careful pre-testing of survey instruments using focus groups.

Expected outcome: This WP will provide a test of transfer errors between sites to enable better sensitivity analysis in future benefit transfers. Furthermore, site-specific factors being of particular importance for benefit estimates will be identified. Monetized welfare consequences to be used in the evaluation in WP3 will also be compiled.

Credit Assessment

WP 3:  Prioritization of water protective measures in spatial planning for risk-based decision support

Tasks and method: The included case studies will be used to identify relevant protective measures linked to e.g. ongoing and future infrastructure projects or future urban development. These measures will be analyzed and evaluated using the characterization of water sources and applicable risk assessment tool from WP1, and the monetized welfare consequences from WP2. The evaluation will follow a probabilistic cost-benefit analysis approach, where negative and positive consequences, including costs of implementing protective measures are compared, and uncertainties in benefits and costs are explicitly approached by assigning probability distributions. The results for the case studies will be critically evaluated, taking into account the limitations of cost-benefit analysis in terms of, for example, discounting procedures in cases with long time horizons, uncertainties of input data and the sensitivity of model results to these uncertainties, and the presence of socio-cultural consequences not taken into account in standard welfare economics. Finally, the universal validity of the case study results with respect to the general Swedish situation will be evaluated by comparing the studied sites with other sites, leaning on the findings of WP1 and WP2 in terms of how site-specific factors are driving benefit estimates and risk situation.

Expected outcome: This WP provides decision support for prioritizing measures for drinking water source protection for the case studies. WP3 will also provide a framework giving guidance on how to perform risk assessments and how to utilize the results for economic decision analysis, as a part of plans for infrastructure projects and spatial planning and management in general.

Reading Map

WP 4:  Project Management

The project management will primarily be directed at:

  • Monitoring WP progress and compliance with budget/time plan

  • Ensuring efficient interaction and communication between researchers, stakeholders, and other parties

  • Maintaining a project structure for sharing of data and other information

  • Recruiting and organizing the work for a reference group

Office Work

WP 5:  Dissemination

We aim at publishing four peer review papers on risk assessment of drinking water sources, valuation study results, testing benefit transfer opportunities, and decision support for prioritization of water protective measures. Researchers will also participate in, and present their research at, scientific national and international conferences, symposia and seminars. Key tasks in this WP are listed below and a further description of dissemination activities are presented in the description of societal benefits.

  • Workshops with stakeholders

  • Journal publications

  • Popular science publications

  • Attending seminars and conferences