The economic value of water in metropolitan areas of the United States

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Water Policy



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Water has been a passionately contested issue in the United States (US) over the past century. Some argue for growth restrictions in drought-susceptible regions, but based on economic production, it may be worthwhile implementing creative measures to ensure continued and sustainable growth. The following economic analysis correlates water withdrawals in the 32 most populous metropolitan areas in the US with several economic indicators, including gross metropolitan product (GMP), income, and employment. The ratio of GMP to water withdrawals (GMP/H2O) ranged from (US)$58,788 per million gallons in Tampa to $939,555 per million gallons in San Jose ($15,532 to $248,231 per megaliter, respectively). Some drought-susceptible areas (e.g., Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas) had relatively high GMP/H2O values, while others (e.g., Phoenix and San Diego) had relatively low GMP/H2O values. From a regional perspective, the Northwest had the strongest economy relative to its water withdrawals, and the Midwest had the weakest. These data indicate that the GMP/H2O metric can be used to justify water use in certain metropolitan areas but that the metric is less applicable to regional analyses due to unique aspects of local economies and water resource portfolios.


Droughts – Economic aspects; Economy; Gross Metropolitan Product (GMP); Metropolitan areas; United States; Water-supply – Economic aspects; Water security; Water withdrawals


Environmental Engineering | Environmental Sciences | Growth and Development | Natural Resource Economics | Natural Resources and Conservation | Urban Studies and Planning | Water Resource Management




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