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

Daniel Gerrity, Shane Snyder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


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/H 2O) 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/H 2O values, while others (e.g., Phoenix and San Diego) had relatively low GMP/H 2O 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/H 2O 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)443-458
Number of pages16
JournalWater Policy
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2011


  • Economy
  • Gross Metropolitan Product (GMP)
  • Metropolitan area
  • Water withdrawals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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