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Papers of the Regional Science Association

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 229–250 | Cite as

Water quality management by regional authorities in the Ruhr area with special emphasis on the role of cost assessment

  • Allen V. Kneese
Regional Resource Management

Keywords

Water Quality Quality Management Regional Authority Water Quality Management Cost Assessment 
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Literatur

  1. 1.
    This generalization does not hold completely, of course. An interesting exception is illustrated by the recent German detergents legislation. Regional methods of handling the problem were explicitly analyzed and weighed against the cost of a national measure to outlaw the sale of hard detergents. The latter was judged the superior alternative.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Allen V. Kneese, “The Economics of Regional Water Quality Management”, Mimeo, Resources for the Future, Inc.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Otto A. Davis and Andrew Whinston, “Externalities, Welfare, an the Theory of Games”,Journal of Political Economy, June, 1962.Google Scholar
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    The only general description of these organizations in English known to the author is Gordon M. Fair, “Pollution Abatment in the Ruhr District”, in Henry Jarrettet al, Comparisons in Resource Management Baltimore: (Johns Hopkins Press, 1961). Certain aspects of the work of the Genossenschaften are described and evaluated in S. V. Ciriacy-Wantrup, “Water Quality, A Problem for the Economist”,Journal of Farm Economics, December, 1961. These is a vast German literature on the Genossenchaften. General treatments include Helmut Moehle, “Wasserwirtschaftliche Probleme an Industriefluessen” (Problems of Water Economy on Industrial Streams),Die Wasserwirtschaft, 45, 4, 1954.Fuenfzig Jahre Emschergenossenschaft 1906–1956 (Fifty Years of the Emschergenossen-schaft), Selbstverlag der Emschergenossenschaft, Essen, 1957. E. H. Max Pruess, “Der Ruhrverband und Ruhrtalsperrenverein als Muster gemeinwirtschaftlichet, Wasserwirt-schaft”, (The Ruhrverband and Ruhrtalsperrenverein as a Pattern for Collective Water Management),Staedtehygiene, Heft 9, 1954. H. W. Koenig, “Wasserverbaende als rationelle Loesung fuer den Gewaesserschutz” (The Water Associations as a Rational Solution for Protection of Water Supplies),Plan, Schweizerische Zeitschrift fuer Landes-, Regionalund Ortsplannung, Zurich, September/October 1960, p. 157.Wasserwirschaft in Nordrhein-Westfalen (Water Economics in Northrhine Westphalia), Verwaltungsverlag, GmbH Frankfurt/Main, 1960.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    All of the Genossenschaften with one exception were established before 1930. The Erftverband (Verband and Genossenschaft are used interchangeably in this context) was created in 1958 primarily to deal with problems resulting from a massive pumping down of ground water tables by the coal industry in the area of Erft river, west of the Rhine.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Except for saline pollution from the coal mines in the area. The Lippe carries considerable natural salinity and additional saline water is pumped up from the mines. Another major source of salinity in the Rhine is the potash industry, particularly in France. Effective arragements for reducing salinity have not yet been made.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    This was originally proposed by the Royal Commisson on Sewage Effluents in England. See Louis Klein,Aspects of River Pollution op. cit., p. 551.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Despite rather impressive attention to amenities and recreation, the combined expenditure of the Genossenschaften (which build and operate all water treatment plants, dams, pump stations, etc.) amounts to about $ 60 million a year (exclusive of capital investments), somewhat over half of which is for land drainage. The largest water works in the area (which is a profit-making enterprise and which contributes heavily to the costs of the facilities on the Ruhr) delivers water for household and industrial use at 30 cents per thousand gallons (official exchange rates used in making coversions).Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    The theoretical features of these aspects are discussed earlier in this paper.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    See Ciriacy-Wantrup, “Water Quality-A Problem for the Economist”,Journal of Farm Economics, December 1961, and Allen V. and Georgia Kneese, “The Recent German Detergents Legislation—Nature and Rationale”, mimeo.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    However, the quality of the Ruhr varies considerably along the course of its flow. At the head of the Hengsteysee (a shallow reservoir in the Ruhr built essentially as an instream treatment plant) the quality of the water is very poor. Neutralization, precipitation and oxidation occur in the hengsteysee, and further stabilization takes place in the Harkortsee, a similar instream oxidation lake. By the time the water reaches the Baldeneysee (a third such lake) the quality has improved to such an extent that the water is suitable for general recreational use. This is true despite the fact that there are further heavy discharges of treated wastes between the Hengsteysee and the Baldeneysee. These waste discharges are generally given far-reaching treatment, frequently, by means of treatment plants with double biological stages (activated sludge and trickling filters).Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Complicated by the fact that the waters of the lower Lippe arehighly saline both from natural causes and because saline water is pumped into it from coal mines.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    One reason why such stream specialization may be advantageous is that the rate at which oxygen passes into the stream through the air-water interface is directly proportional to the size of the oxygen deficit (i.e. the amount by which actual dissolved oxygen (D.O.) falls below saturation level). Thus a stream in which dissolved oxygen is heavily drawn on has a much larger capacity to degarde organic wastes than a stream with sufficient dissolved oxygen to support fish life or provide drinking water.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Especially in Holland where even recently introduced large-scale ground water recharge projects are failing to supply suitable quality water.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Based on conversation with Dr. Ing. Knop, Baudirektor Emschergenossenschaft.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    With the above noted exception of saline waters pumped from coal mines.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Administrators of the Genossenschaften place great emphasis on the economies which result from a single staff planning, building, operating, and supervising the water resouces facilities of an entire basin. The Ruhrverband operates 84 effluent treatment plants (to which, on the average, four new ones are added each year), four large detention lakes, 27 pumpworks, 300 km of trunk-sewer, run-of-the river power plants, six dams (one in addition is under construction), power plants associated with the dams, and their own electricity distribution systems with a total staff (including laborers, apprentices and janitorial help) of 780 persons. See H.W. Koenig (Dr. Koenig is executive officer of the RV-RTV), “Wasserverbaende als rationelle Loesung fuer den Gewaesserschutz,”Plan (Schweizerische Zeitschrift fuer Landes-, Regional- und Ortsplannung), September-October 1960, p. 157.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Actually it was an out-of-control and extremely offensive open sewer when the Emschergenossenschaft came into existence.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    A virtually certain source of non-optimality is the fact that the design flow for all facilities is arbitrarily chosen (annual mean low flow). There is interest in considering this as a variable in the system but so far technical complexities have prevented experimentation with design flows.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Such matters as the use of garbage grinders and detergents could presumably be affected. However, checking effluent quality from individual households would appear to be unjustifiably expensive and consequently some other method of distributing municipal sewage handling costs is universally adopted.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Bucksteeg has reported some of the existing differences in the BOD of industries with organic waste loads. His own study of 14 paper mills indicated a population equivalent BOD per ton of paper ranging from 51 to 1254, a multiple of almost 25. He also reported ranges per ton of output for other industries, in part based on the work of others. Multiples computed from the ranges reported in these industries are 2.5 in malt factories, 6 in starch factories, 4 and 50 respectively for beef and pork slaughter houses, about 10 in tanneries, aud about 20 in textile factories. Bucksteeg, “Problematik der Bewertung giftiger Inhaltstoffe etc.” (The Problem of Evaluating Toxins, etc.),op. cit., p. 12 and “Teste zur Beurteilung von Abwaessern” (Tests for Judging Effluents),op. cit., p. 1. As might be expected in the presence of such a range of possibilities, waste loads delivered to the Genossenschaften's quality control system have responded to effluent charges and other measures used to diminish them. The phenol recovery plants operated by the Emschergenossenschaft have already been described. They have in the past been virtually self-sufficient. Even a modest effluent charge could have caused a profit-maximizing (cost-minimizing) firm to operate such a plant, although economies of marketing, staff, research, etc., are thought to have been achieved by centralized operation. These plants recover about 65 per cent of the waste phenols occurring in the Emscher area.Fuenfzig Jahre der Emschergenossenschaft (Fifty Years of the Emschergenossenschaft),op. cit., p. 256. Another example of intensive waste recovery is provided by the capture of iron sulfate and sulfuric acid from the waste water of the Ruhr's iron and steel working industry. The basic reasons for this recovery of these particularly destructive wastes are the in. centive provided by the combined effect of effluent charges and technical marketing assistance offered by the Ruhrverband. As a result over thirty per cent of total industrial acid use in the Ruhr area is recovered. Recovery even though usually carried on at a loss is often considerably cheaper than treatment by neutralization. Prof. Dr. Ing. W. Husmann, “Die Abwaesser der metallverarbeitenden Industrien” (The Effluents of the Metal Working Industries),Beseitigung und Reinigung industrieller Abwaesser, Basel, 1958, p. 8. The author also saw a steel plant (Hoesch-Westfalenhuette in Dortmund) where a series of recirculation and treatment systems virtually eliminated effluent from the plant. This is attributed to a combination of water costs and effluent charges. All other iron and steel plants in the area are gradually adopting similar measures to economize water use and waste water generation. Based on a conversation with Maximilian Zur who is in charge of water economy at the Hoesch-Westfalenhuette. See also Maximilian Zur, “Die Wasserwirtschaft der Hoesch-Westfalenhuette A G, Dortmund” (The Water Economics of the Hoesch-Westfalenhuette Incorporated, Dortmund), Stahl und Eisen, 1958, Heft 17.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Dipl. Ing. Ulrich Moeller, Referat ueber das Thema, “Wie werden in einem Flussgebiet die Beschaffenheit des Vorfluters, die Leistung der Klaerwerke und die entsprechenden Bau und Betriebskosten aufeinander abgestimmt?” (How are the Characteristics of the Drainage Channel, the Capacity of Treatment Plants and the Corresponding Construction and Operating Costs Articulated with one Another?), gehalten am 16.1, 1961 innerhalb des 25. Siedlungs-Wasserwirtschaftlichen, Kolloquims an, der Technischen Hochschule Stuttgart.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    There have been a number of examples where waste recovery has proven profitable in the U.S. even without considering the external costs avoided. In the manufacture of synthetic phenol by the sulfonation process, liquid wastes have been essentially eliminated by process engineering. The value of recovered materials is reported to exceed recovery costs. See A. N. Helles and M. E. Wenger, “Process Engineering in Stream Pollution Abatement,”Sewage and Industrial Wastes, February, 1954, Vol. 26, No. 2. A few sulfite pulp mills in North America have constructed full-scale ethyl alcohol plants to convert the wood sugars in their waste liquors (the wood sugars constitute about 50 per cent of the BOD in sulfite waste liquor). These plants have been reported to be “profitable.” Actual or expected competition from other alcohol processes is reported to have retarded other plants from establishing similar mills. The same study reports that another and perhaps more promising possibility for waste recovery from the sulfite process is the torula fodder yeast method. See Harold R. Murdock, “Water and Waste in the Wood Pulp Industry,”Sewage and Industrial Wastes, January 1954, Vol. 26. In the sugar beet industry recovery of monosodium glutamate and potash from the notorious “Steffens” process wastes have proven to be profitable. Conversation with Lloyd T. Jensen, Vice-President of Great Western Sugar and head of the National Technical Task Committee on Industrial Wastes. A charge fully reflecting marginal damages, or operation costs of an optimal regional waste disposal system would change the way in which profits are calculated The gross private (and social) return from the recovery operation would be the sales price of the recovered materials plus avoided effluent charges. Obviously the way in which the “costs” of materials saving or waste load reducing process changes are calculated would be similarly affected.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Kneese, “Economics of Regional Water Quality Management,”op. cit. Allen V. Kneese, “The Economics of Regional Water Quality Management,” Mimeo, Resources for the Future, Inc. Major original references are Emschergenossenschaft-Auszug aus der Veranlagung, fuer das Rechnugsjahr, 1962 (Emschergenossenschaft-Summary of Assessment Procedures for the Fiscal Year 1962), Dr. Ing. E. Knop, “Die Schaedlichkeitsbewertung von Abwaessern” (Evaluating the Damaging Effects of Effluents),Technische-Wissenschaftliche Mitteilungen Heft 4, Juli, 1961, Vulkan Verlag-Essen, Fuenfzig Jahre Emschergenossenschaft (Fifty Years of the Emschergenossenschaft), Selbstverlag der Emschergenossenschaft, Essen, 1957, pp. 103, 123.Veranlagung zum Ruhrverband Gueltig ab I Januar 1962 (Assessment of the Ruhrverband valid from January 1, 1962), Ruhrverband Essen,Veranlangung zum Ruhrtalsperrenverein Gueltig ab 1 Januar, 1962 (Assessment of the Ruhrtalsperrenverein-valid from January 1, 1962), Dr. W. Bucksteeg,Verfahren zur Bestimmung desEinwohnergleichwertes beliebiger Abwaesser (Procedure for Determination of the Population Equivalent of Effluents), Ruhrverband, Essen (mimeo.), Dr. W. Bucksteeg, “Problematik der Bewertung giftiger Inhaltstoffe im Abwasser und Moeglichkeiten zur Schaffung gesicherter Bewertungsgrundlagen” (Problems in the Evaluation of Toxic Substances, in Effluents and the Possibility of Obtaining Secure Evaluation Standards),Muenchener, Beitraege zur Abwasser, Fischerei-und Flussbiologie Band 6, Verlag R Oldenbourg, Muenchen, 1959. An explanation of the cost allocation method of the Wupperverband is found inWuppeverband Beitragliste 1961 (Wupperverband Contribution List, 1961), Wuppertal Maerz 1961 and for the Niersverband inNiersverband Hebeliste fuer das Rechnungjahr 1962 (Niersverband Assessment List for the Fiscal Year 1962), Niersverband Viersen. Much of the following description is also based upon conversations with the staffs of the Genossenschaften and upon correspondence with Dr. Koenig, Director of the Ruhrverband-Ruhrtalsperrenvereln and with Dr. Knop, Director of the Emschergenossenschaft-Lippeverband.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Ibid. Kneese, “Economics of Regional Water Quality Management,”op. cit. Major original references are Emschergenossenschaft-Auszug aus der Veranlagung fuer das Rechnungsjahr, 1962 (Emschergenossenschaft-Summary of Assessment Procedures for the Fiscal Year 1962), Dr. Ing. E. Knop, “Die Schaedlichkeitsbewertung von Abwaessern” (Evaluating the Damaging Effects of Effluents),Technische-Wissenschaftliche Mitteilungen Heft 4, Juli, 1961, Vulkan Verlag-Essen, Fuenfzig Jahre Emschergenossenschaft (Fifty Years of the Emschergenossenschaft), Selbstverlag der Emschergenossenschaft, Essen, 1957, pp. 103, 123.Veranlagung zum Ruhrverband Gueltig, ab I Januar 1962 (Assessment of the Ruhrverband valid from January 1, 1962), Ruhrverband Essen,Veranlangung zum Ruhrtalsperrenverein Gueltig ab 1 Januar, 1962 (Assessment of the Ruhrtalsperrenverein-valid from January 1, 1962), Dr. W. Bucksteeg,Verfahren zur Bestimmung desEinwohnergleichwertes beliebiger Abwaesser (Procedure for Determination of the Population Equivalent of Effluents), Ruhrverband, Essen (mimeo.), Dr. W. Bucksteeg, “Problematik der Bewertung giftiger Inhaltstoffe im Abwasser und Moeglichkeiten zur Schaffung gesicherter Bewertungsgrundlagen” (Problems in the Evaluation of Toxic Substances in Effluents and the Possibility of Obtaining Secure Evaluation Standards),Muenchener Beitraege zur Abwasser, Fischerei-und Flussbiologie Band 6, Verlag R Oldenbourg Muenchen, 1959. An explanation of the cost allocation method of the Wupperverband is found inWuppeverband Beitragliste 1961 (Wupperverband Contribution List, 1961), Wuppertal Maerz 1961 and for the Niersverband inNiersverband hebeliste fuer das Rechnungjahr 1962 (Niersverband Assessment List for the Fiscal Year 1962), Niersverband Viersen. Much of the following description is also based upon conversations with the staffs of the Genossenschaften and upon correspondence with Dr. Koenig, Director of the Ruhrverband-Ruhrtalsperrenverein and with Dr. Knop, Director of the Emschergenossenschaft-Lippeverband.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    For a fuller explanation of the principles involved, see Kneese,Economics of Regional Water Quality Management, op. cit. Allen V. Kneese, “The Economics of Regional Water Quality Management,” Mimeo, Resources for the Future, Inc.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    If some action is taken by the authority for each pollutant.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Delaware figure fromSurface Water Supply of the United States, 1956, Part 1-B, North Atlantic Slope Basins, New York to York River, Geological Survey Water Supply Paper 1432, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, 1959. The Ruhr flow figures are from Helmut Moehle, “Wasserwirtschaftliche Probleme an, Industriefluessen” (Problems of Water Economics on the Industrial Streams),Die Wasserwirtschaft, 45, 1954.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Oxygen conditions are especially likely to deteriorate radically during such periods because high temperatures (which cause bacteriological activity to increase and the oxygen saturation level of water to decline) ordinarily correspond with low flows. The combination of high concentrations of toxins and low oxygen levels can easily be fatal to fish. If oxygen levels are below several parts per million, oxygen deficiency itself will kill fish and if oxygen becomes exhausted extreme nuisance conditions accompany the development of anaerobic processes in a stream. The concentrations of substances which alter Ph value of water, affect its hardness, create tastes and odors, cause dissolved solids content to rise—all tend to be higher during periods of low flow. This leads to rising municipal and industrial water supply treatment costs and a variety of pollution-caused damages to facilities and equipment. The point is that the social costs of pollution rise strongly during periods of low flow. An authority controlling a going waste disposal system and attempting to operate it in such a way as to equate the relevant marginal costs would necessarily incur much greater costs of operation during low flow periods than during higher flows. During the critical periods such measures as increased aeration in activated sludge plants and the addition of chemicals aid precipitation in all types of treatment plants might be undertaken, leading to an increase in operating costs. During such periods artificial reaeration of streams may be done directly in the stream or through the turbines of hydro plants which in the first instance involves direct costs, and in the second, indirect costs because power plant efficiency is cut down. During low stream stages the augmentation of flow from reservoir storage offers the opportunity to increase waste dilution and if there are alternative uses for the stored water (say, peak power generators, or for recreation), an opportunity cost (internal to the water resources system) is incurred. It is thus quite clear that costs are strongly related to time of discharge. In fact the social costs of a given quantity of a pollutant discharged at one time may easily be a multiple of those at another. Indeed, during periods of high stream flow waste disposal into the stream is likely to be virtually without downstream damages. During such periods the only justification for operating treatment plants at all may be to avoid the aesthetic nuisance of floating materials in the water.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    See Thomas Marschak, “Capital Budgeting and Pricing in the French Nationalized Industries,”The Journal of Business, April, 1960, p. 133. Jack Hirshleifer, James C. De Haven and Jerome W. Milliman,Water Supply-Economics, Technology and Policy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960), Chapter V. For recent theoretical discussion of peak load princing with special reference to investment decisions, see M. Boiteux, “Peakload Pricing,”The Journal of Business, April, 1960, p. 157 and P. O. Steiner, “Peak Loads and Efficient Pricing,”Quarterly Journal of Economics, November 1957, 585; and Jack Hirschleifer, “Peak Loads and Efficient Pricing: Comment,”Quarterly Journal of Economics, 1958, p. 460.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    The Ruhrverband has 718 directly assessed industrial numbers and 264 communities. There would seem to be little to be accomplished by attempting to estimate charges in effluent quantity and quality from the communities themselves since they have little opportunity to adapt discharges to variable streamflow quantity and quality. Moreover, existing procedures for appeal of the cost assessments would have to be revised.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Some of the most advanced work on automatic monitoring systems has been done by the Ohio River Sanitation Commission (Cincinnati, Ohio). See the ORSANCO annual reports. The most comprehensive discussions known to the author of the instruments and techniques used by ORSANCO are found in Edward J. Cleary (Executive Director of ORSANCO), “Ein Fluss-Roboter fuer die Kontrolle der Wasserguete” (A Stream Robot for the Control of Water Quality),Die Wasserwirtschaft, Heft, 4, April, 1961, p. 85. Some major reports on German experience with automatic monitoring devices are W. Husman, “Einsatz neuerer Messmethoden auf dem Gebeit der Abwasserreinigung und Gewaesserkontrolle in Bereich der Emschergenossenschaft und des Lippeverbandes” (Institution of Newer Measuring Methods in the Field of Effluent Treatment and Water Control in the Area of the Emschergenossenschaft and Lippeverband),Schweizerische Zeitschrift fuer Hydrologie (Vol. XXII, 1960, 461); W. Husman, “Mess-und Regelanlagen zur Gewaesserueberwachung” (Measurement and Regulation Devices for Water Monitoring)Wasser und Boden 6, 1961, p. 181; R. Schuh, “Meszgeraete fuer die Untersuchung and Ueberwachung von Fluss-und Abwaesser” (Measurement Devices for the Investigation and Monitoring of Stream Water and Effluents),Die Wasserwirtschaft, September, 1958, p. 315; W. Husman and G. Stracka, “Kontinuierliche Sauerstoffmessung im Flusz-und Abwaesser” (Continuous Measurement of Oxygen in Stream Water und Effluents.),Die Wasserwirschaft, October, 1957, p. 13. For a description of some of the automatic monitoring activities in the Delaware Basin (including the estuary), seeThe Interstate Commission on the Delaware River Basin Proceedings, Pocono Manor, Pennsylania, October 15–16, 1962, especially the papers delivered Monday forenoon, October 15.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    See especially Husman, “Einsatz, etc.,”op. cit. ;Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    See Cleary, “Ein Fluss-Roboter, etc.,”op. cit. “Ein Fluss-Roboter fuer die Kontrolle der Wasserguete” (A Stream Robot for the Control of Water Quality),Die Wasserwirtschaft Heft 4, April, 1961, p. 85.Google Scholar

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© The Regional Science Association 1963

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  • Allen V. Kneese

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