Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Agricultural and Resource Economics

Committee Chair

Alan Collins

Committee Member

Levan Elbakidze

Committee Member

Xiaoli Etienne

Committee Member

Daniel Grossman


This dissertation consists of three essays that explore the impacts of changes in public water quality, reliability, and raw water source. The first essay explores the relationship between episodes of contaminated drinking water and health care expenditures in the United States. Using panel data from 48 contiguous states from 2000 to 2011 and spatial econometrics modeling methods, the results indicate that there is positive and statistically significant impact on per capita health care expenditures from the percentage of a state’s population exposed to contamination episodes. The second essay examines the problem of water supply reliability due to aging infrastructure of public water systems on residential property prices in Marion County, West Virginia. Using the issuance of boil water notices (BWN) as an indicator of water service unreliability and spatial modeling methods, the results indicate that the issuance of boil water notices one year prior to a sale leads to reduced housing prices among low to mid-range priced houses from $850 to $2,700. Overall, water supply unreliability has a substantial impact on the value of residential properties in Marion County such that a one-day reduction of BWN is equal to $4.60 million. The third essay explores the impact of access to raw water sources on residential water charges by public service districts (PSDs) in West Virginia. By comparing residential water charges per 4,500 gallons for PSDs that utilize different raw water sources, the results show that purchased water and the use of multiple sources result in higher residential water charges.