Intangible benefits of nature-based solutions for wastewater treatment

Published: 24 June 2024| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/tzc88kcnwv.1


This dataset is part of a research project on the eco-cultural wastewater treatment technologies in New Zealand. The research hypothesis posits that eco-cultural wastewater treatment systems, which integrate environmental, social and cultural dimensions, provide significant intangible benefits that are often overlooked in traditional economic evaluations. This study aims to quantify these benefits within the framework of total economic valuation framework. Data were sourced from the Ecosystem Services Valuation Database (ESVD) and relevant literature on NBS for wastewater treatment. The database contains detailed information about various studies evaluating the intangible benefits of Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) for wastewater treatment. It includes data from the Ecosystem Services Valuation Database (ESVD) and other relevant studies, focusing on non-market valuation estimates. Key Columns in the Database: -Study ID: Unique identifier for each study. -OB: Additional identifier or grouping code. -ESVD2.0_Biome: Biome or ecosystem type (e.g., Coastal systems, Marine). -ES_Text: Ecosystem service described in text (e.g., water filtration). -ES: Ecosystem service category (e.g., Waste treatment). -Value Groups: Grouping of value types (e.g., Waste treatment and processing) based on the total economic valuation framework -Countries: Country where the study was conducted. -Site Area Unit: Unit of the site area (e.g., hectare). -Site Area: Size of the study area. -Valuation Methods: Methods used for valuation (e.g., Contingent Valuation (CE)). -Value Year: Year the value was estimated. -Original Value: Original estimated value. -NZD: Converted value in 2023 New Zealand Dollars (NZD). -Title: Title of the study. Key Findings: 1. Diversity of Ecosystem Services: The studies cover a wide range of ecosystem services, including water filtration, habitat for species, recreational opportunities, and storm protection. This demonstrates the multifaceted benefits of NBS beyond traditional wastewater treatment. 2. Valuation Methods: Common methods used include Contingent Valuation (CE) and other non-market valuation approaches. These methods help quantify benefits that are not typically traded in markets, such as cultural and recreational values. 3. Geographical Spread: The studies span various countries, indicating a global interest in NBS and their benefits. However, a significant portion of the data pertains to specific regions like Saint Martin, which may influence the generalizability of the findings. 4. Economic Valuation: The values of intangible benefits are converted to 2023 NZD for consistency. This allows for easier comparison across studies and helps in understanding the economic significance of these benefits in a current context.


Steps to reproduce

Data collection, data review and analysis: We first searched and reviewed the Ecosystem Services Valuation Database (ESVD) and relevant review studies on NBS (also similar topics, such as water sensitivity systems) for wastewater treatment, that are not included in the database. We meticulously reviewed and validated the results from the ESVD and the literature, resulting in a finalised list of estimates for the intangible benefits to be analysed. The ESVD ( is an extensive online database with over 9,400 non-market valuation values, widely used by policymakers, research projects, and publications assessing ecosystems and environmental values. We used the keyword wastewater to search for the qualified studies from the ESVD database, which yielded 13 studies with 58 value estimates. In addition to the value estimates, we also collected information about each study. This included titles, types of ecosystem services, original currency estimates, countries, size of the study area, valuation methods, value year, and converted estimates in 2020 USD (per hectare per year). Additionally, we conducted a comprehensive search of review studies on the economic evaluation of NBS and related topics, such as the intangible benefits of water-sensitive urban systems including wastewater treatment. This ensured thorough inclusion of intangible benefits of NBS for wastewater treatment in our study, identifying two recent reviews by Agaton & Guila (2023) and Gunawardena et al. (2020). We further reviewed all studies, focusing only on those providing monetised values of intangible benefits of NBS or wastewater treatment. This process produced 40 value estimates from 14 studies, while 13 studies were excluded for various reasons: 1) non-monetarised estimates (e.g., additional habitat units created as the benefit); 2) Estimates cannot be transferred which quantified benefits per house using a hedonic pricing model and cannot be transferred to a per hectare value); and 3) values measured for purposes other than wastewater treatment, where constructed lagoons aimed to improve drainage and flow regulation to increase sugarcane yield). This thorough data collection ensures a robust analysis of the intangible benefits associated with NBS for wastewater treatment, facilitating accurate comparisons and evaluations across different studies and contexts. Analysis of the qualified intangible benefits (98 value estimates) provided summarised information about the value of intangible benefits for the potential categories of economic values. These estimates were grouped and summarised into different categories based on the total economic values framework commonly used in environmental economics literature. All the value estimates were then transferred to 2023 NZD using the PPP index and currency exchange index from the OECD and world bank database.


National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Hamilton


Wastewater Treatment, Nonmarket Valuation, Economic Benefit Analysis


Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment