Factors that Influence Landowner Participation in Payment for Riparian Ecosystem Services Programs: Lessons for the Design of Utility-Initiated Watershed PES Programs
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Every day millions of Americans enjoy clean safe drinking water from public water systems. Yet, human activity and development in sensitive watersheds pose significant threats to drinking water sources. This problem is compounded by the high cost of constructing new drinking water filtration plants. With cost ranging in the tens of millions to billions, municipalities and public utilities are searching for new ways to protect drinking water sources and avoid costly investments in filtration facilities. One alternative, seeks to eliminate the need for expensive water filtration plants by investing in watershed stewardship and conservation programs to protect ecosystems that benefit water quality. Using survey data collected in 2012, this research examines that factors that influence landowner’s “willingness to participate” in a payment of ecosystem services program to protect water quality in the McKenzie River watershed, Oregon. This paper builds on a growing body of research currently taking place in Oregon to investigate how public water districts/utilities and corporations might provide sufficient funding and incentives to pay for ecosystem services. This research provides basic lessons for public water providers and utilities interested in implementing PES programs in the future.