This paper estimates the short-run and long-run impacts of early childhood lead exposure from drinking water on educational outcomes, the spatial and demographic distribution of these impacts, and the welfare impacts of lead abatement policies. I merge data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on lead violations under the Safe Drinking Water Act with data on individual standard test scores, educational attainment, and wages from restrictive-use Texas data. I also match lead concentration in drinking water with Blood Lead Levels (BLLs) data, education and labor-market outcomes for a subgroup of individuals for whom we can identify their drinking water provider in Texas to understand the dose-response impacts of lead in drinking water. I ﬁnd that lead exposure at birth from drinking water has signiﬁcant negative impact on students’ 3rd grade standard test scores. In the long run, it also signiﬁcantly reduce the high school graduation rate.
Bringing Hydrologic Realism to Water Markets, with Danielle Grogan, Matthew D. Lisk, Shan Zuidema, Karen Fisher-Vanden4, Richard B. Lammers, Sheila M. Olmstead, Lara Fowler and Alexander A. Prusevich (In submission)
Water scarcity in arid regions is challenging current water management institutions. Water markets are important adaptation tools as water stress increases because they move water from lower- to higher-valued uses. However, analysis of water markets lacking physical water system dynamics cannot adequately capture markets’ potential or limitations. We develop a novel integrated model of water rights trading and physical hydrology to evaluate water markets in the U.S. West, and ﬁnd that potential agriculture-to-urban trading may generate net economic returns two orders of magnitude larger than existing, limited water markets. Where groundwater rights are not regulated, markets exacerbate groundwater depletion, but differences in consumptive water use allow agriculture to retain unexpected levels of water resources, even with strict groundwater constraints.
Harmonized Database of Western U.S. Water Rights, with Matthew D. Lisk, Danielle S. Grogan, Shan Zuidema, Robert Caccese, Darrah Peklak, Sheila Olmstead, Karen Fisher-Vanden, Richard B. Lammers, and Lara Fowler (In Submission)
In the arid and semi-arid western U.S., access to water is regulated through a legal system of water rights. Individuals, companies, organizations, municipalities, and tribal entities have documents that declare their water rights. State water regulatory agencies collate and maintain these records, which can be used in legal disputes over access to water. While these records are publicly available data in all western U.S. states, the data have not yet been readily available in digital form from all states. Furthermore, there are many differences in data format, terminology, and definitions between state water regulatory agencies. Here, we have collected water rights data from 11 western U.S. state agencies, harmonized terminology and use definitions, formatted them consistently, and tied them to a western U.S.-wide shapeﬁle of water administrative boundaries. We demonstrate how these data enable consistent regional-scale western U.S. hydrologic and economic modeling.
Suicide and Lithium in the Public Water Supply of 870 US Counties, with Paul von Hippel and Sheila Olmstead
Several studies have reported that suicide rates are lower in areas with higher concentrations of lithium in drinking water. Some authors have recommended adding lithium to the public water supply. We estimate the association between suicide and drinking-water lithium in the largest dataset yet used for this purpose. In 870 US counties, we regress county suicide rates on lithium concentrations in groundwater and surface water. We control for spatial correlation and county-level correlates of suicide rates, including economic conditions and religious, racial, and ethnic composition. With or without covariates, we ﬁnd no signiﬁcant association between county suicide rates and the concentration of lithium in the water supply. Our results do not support a policy of adding lithium to the water supply.