An estimation of the private value of aquifer recharge from ephemeral wetlands on the Texas high plains

Dacheng Bian, Aaron Benson, Ryan B. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Ecosystem services are benefits people derive from resources in ecosystems. Playa lakes in the Southern High Plains region of North America provide several ecosystem services for humans, including recharge to the Ogallala aquifer. The Ogallala aquifer occupies 450,000 km2, it is part of eight states, and provides irrigation water to over 25% of the irrigated land in the United States. The recharge provided by playas potentially makes them important and valuable in this region. We develop an econometric model (with spatial aspects) to determine how playas affect the water level of irrigation wells and estimate the economic value to farmers of playa ecosystem services in recharging the water in those wells. We find that, in some instances, additional playa surface area may have a small but statistically significant effect on well drawdown (and, we infer, on recharge) on nearby wells, but that the value of the additional water is likely too small to significantly affect private management decisions. Because of lack of appropriate data, these results are of only limited applicability. We therefore identify a need for more research on the effects of management of sedimentation of playa wetlands as a key component that may improve the findings reported here.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)286-302
Number of pages17
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2013


  • Aquifer recharge
  • Ecosystem services
  • Playa lakes


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