Environmental and Resource Economics

, Volume 57, Issue 3, pp 453–476 | Cite as

Salt or Sludge? Exploring Preferences for Potable Water Sources



Decision makers often use information about public preferences to guide public policy. Several disciplines gather information on preferences through surveys by asking respondents to make hypothetical choices over potential policies. However the context of the choice question differs between approaches, with some failing to make the full consequences of the respondent’s choice explicit in the question. In this study we investigate whether question context matters, by exploring whether economic and psychology approaches yield a similar understanding of community preferences towards a large-scale recycled wastewater scheme. We find that stated preferences differ depending on whether the preference question is contextualised using economic incentives. The findings provide insight into the implications of inappropriately contextualised preference questions, methodological considerations in attitude identification and estimation, and the diversity of values and public attitudes towards recycled wastewater.


Non-market valuation Attitudes Recycled wastewater 



We are grateful to James Fogarty, Peter Boxall, Caroline Mitchell and the reviewers for insightful comments. We acknowledge funding support from University of Western Australia, the CSIRO Water for Healthy Country Flagship and Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Environmental Economics and Policy, School of Agricultural and Resource EconomicsUniversity of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  2. 2.School of Agricultural and Resource EconomicsUniversity of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia

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