Water, Vol. 15, Pages 1966: How Important for Society Is Recreation Provided by Multi-Purpose Water Reservoirs? Welfare Analysis of the Vltava River Reservoir System
Water doi: 10.3390/w15101966
Contrary to the other functions of multi-purpose reservoirs, recreational use is not associated with a tangible social value, which hinders the search for new balances among optimal uses of water that will likely be needed under climate change. The objective of this study is to analyze visitation behavior and its patterns at a large-scale reservoir system on the Vltava River to quantify the total social benefits associated with recreation in monetary terms and to suggest how the magnitude of estimated recreation welfare relates to hydro-energy benefits, which are in usual practice taken much more into account than recreation in the strategic management of water dams. The elicited average consumer surplus per person and trip is EUR 55.7, which yields a total yearly recreation value of EUR 34 billion (ranging between 22 and 57). When compared to, e.g., the social value of hydro-energy generation, the actual yearly recreation welfare represents 1/3 of this nowadays more prioritized use. The results of the study bring new information for water management bodies that has been missing up to now, and they bring new arguments for reaching socially optimal water use in the strategic and operational management of the cascade of dams. From this perspective, the actual strategic relative prioritization of these two reservoir functions at the pilot site may be viewed as rational.
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