Understanding the economic impacts of disruptions in water service

Colleen Heflin, Jennifer Jensen, Kathleen Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Over the past decade, there has been much attention focused on community readiness for catastrophic emergency events, such as major natural disasters or terrorist attacks. However, though the economic costs associated with experiencing such an event are high, the probability of such events occurring is quite low. At the same time, less catastrophic events that temporarily disrupt essential services to local areas, such as water and electricity, are quite common. However, there is little research that documents residents' actual economic costs when their water service is disrupted. In this paper, we contribute to the growing literature assigning economic value to residential water service by documenting the economic costs residents report from routine, small-scale water disruptions through focus groups and in-person interviews. We find that residential impacts ranged from over $1400 in savings (from working more hours than usual and eating out less than usual) to a cost of over $1000, with an overall average of $93.96. These costs, particularly when multiplied over a substantial population, become quite significant and demonstrate the importance of studying the economic costs of such events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)80-86
Number of pages7
JournalEvaluation and Program Planning
StatePublished - Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Resilience
  • Utility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Social Psychology
  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management


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