Valuing urban drinking water supply attributes: A case study from Chile
This article uses a discrete choice experiment carried out in the city of Antofagasta, Chile, to understand consumer’s preferences for urban drinking water. To disentangle the perceptions and valuation of drinking water attributes, we propose a willingness-to-pay (WTP)-space model where the WTPs for water attributes are distributed as a mixture-of-normal distribution. This approach combines discrete and continuous heterogeneity representations of tastes providing a richer interpretation of preference heterogeneity for drinking-water characteristics such as price, the organoleptic characteristics, information about the chemical composition, origin, and the taste of water by distinguishing between tap or bottled water. This mixture-based formulation is also flexible enough to identify clusters of individuals with differing WTP for these attributes. The elicited perceptions and inferred preferences derived from our results are important to understand why consumers still distrust tap water for drinking, though tap water meets Chilean regulations in terms of safety and is distributed within a stable network.