Despite some concerns and policy debates at the local level, little is known about how residents of cities perceive the water quality of urban lakes. In particular, their attitudes, knowledge and practices. This study carries out a contingent valuation survey of an urban lake in Košice, Slovakia which suffers from cyanobacterial pollution. The aim of the study is to estimate the willingness to pay (WTP) for lake water improvement as well as to explore how the WTP is influenced by selected factors. It also aims to analyze the identified positive distance effects on the WTP. Data were collected from a representative survey with a dichotomous choice format. The calculated mean of the WTP showed that respondents would be willing to pay 11 EUR on average each year for improving the water quality of the lake. The study supports the widely shown relationship between WTP and the bid amount, income, use frequency and knowledge. The effects of gender and education are not evident in the study. However, the presence of children in the household had a statistically significant influence on WTP. It was also found that knowledge about the ongoing lake cleaning by the city had a negative impact on WTP. The absence of substitute sites within the city limits and the marginal proportion of non-users in the study could explain the presented positive distance effect. The spatial distribution of frequency of use and knowledge support the traditional distance decay.
Keywords: City; Contingent valuation; Distance decay; Lake; Water pollution; Willingness to pay.
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