Economic and social value of improved water quality at Sydney’s coastal beaches
The value of clean beaches
A Deloitte Access Economics report for Sydney Water that focuses on the economic and social value generated from improvements in water quality.
Beaches contribute to the ‘liveability’ of a city and increasingly, there is a desire for the large cities around the world to better support quality of life. The Australian Government has a renewed focus on cities, and the NSW Government is seeking to improve Sydney’s liveability through initiatives such as the establishment of the Greater Sydney Commission.
Infrastructure investments play an important role in facilitating liveability; in the case of beaches, the old cliff-face outfalls at North Head, Bondi and Malabar were decommissioned and replaced with the Deepwater Ocean Outfall program 25 years ago to contribute to cleaner water at Sydney’s coastal beaches. Alongside other changes to wastewater treatment, beneficial re-use and trade waste policies, this program has improved water quality at beaches, resulting in a range of benefits and contributions. Sydney Water has commissioned Deloitte Access Economics to consider these wider impacts. This study is not a cost-benefit analysis or assessment of the Deepwater Ocean Outfall program or other wastewater management initiatives, but rather focuses on the economic and social value generated from improvements in water quality.
In this analysis, total value of beach access for Sydney residents is estimated at around $1.2 billion per annum, based on estimates of an individual’s value of time, with $94 million of this attributable to beach water quality. It was also found that beaches were valuable even for people who did not visit the beach. Indeed, Deloitte Access Economics’ survey found that 9 out of 10 people that have not visited a coastal beach in Sydney over the last 12 months, still value them, for reasons such as their contribution to Sydney’s lifestyle and their iconic value to the city.