Seminar: Public willingness to pay for improving waterway health in South East Queensland


Smart1,2 J.C.R., Fleming3 C.M., Hasan1 S. & Binney4 J.

1: Australian Rivers Institute, 2: School of Environment, Griffith University, Australia
3: Griffith Business School, Griffith University, Australia, 4: Mainstream Economic Consultants


Beaches, bays and islands, rivers and creeks, dams and lakes, wetlands and estuaries, and urban waterways, all make important contributions to quality of life in South East Queensland, Australia. However, these waterway assets are subject to increasing pressure from vegetation clearance, urban development and the expansion of residential areas into the rural hinterland. The impacts generated by these pressures are already evident, and are likely to become increasingly severe as on-going climate change affects the region’s episodic, event-driven catchments. This presentation describes findings from a contingent valuation study to estimate public willingness to pay to improve waterway health, as a way of exploring opportunities for potentially funding catchment restoration and repair works in the upper catchments via revenue transfers from the primarily urban populations in lower catchments - the main beneficiaries of waterway-derived ecosystem services. A spike model analysis indicates that a subset of the population express considerable willingness to pay, but the majority of the region’s population are currently unwilling to contribute – at least when presented with a short rationale and description at the outset of the contingent valuation survey. This suggests that there remains an opportunity for wider public engagement around the role of catchments in providing valuable ecosystem services to the region’s population. This study was commissioned by the South East Queensland Council of Mayors, regional water utilities and not-for-profit groups.