chapter  11
Groundwater Policy
Pages 22

The economic use of groundwater should be perceived in the context of both its private value and social value. For example, the geysers and hot springs of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming (United States) are natural phenomena attributable to the interaction of groundwater and the deep geothermal heat source within the earth’s crust. They could be used in two ways. An entrepreneur could have obtained the rights to the area around the geysers and hot springs from the government and developed health spas and resorts around them. Very likely, only those people who could afford to stay in the resort would have received the benefi ts of this development, which could have been very lucrative to the owner. The area might have even been modifi ed in ways to make the attractions appear differently than in their natural state. The entrepreneur would have captured the private value in a very effi cient way with the associated economic rewards. Alternatively, the government could hold the natural wonders in trust as a recreational area for all citizens, regardless of economic status, to behold and be captivated by their grandeur. This action would allow capture of the fuller social value of the resource. Regardless of the use, this same dichotomy must be addressed in the development and implementation of local, state, national, and transboundary policies concerning groundwater.