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Case Study

Expert Testimony on Groundwater Damages at a Superfund Site

By Theodore D. Tomasi, Ph.D., Managing Principal, Business Director, Natural Resources and Enviromental Economics


A state had alleged $4 billion in damages from aquifer contamination in the desert southwest. Our client questioned the validity of the claim and needed credible technical evaluation of the basis for the state’s claim to ensure that the aquifer resources were being appropriately valued. The findings needed to be presented in an expert report and in testimony in federal court proceedings.


Integral economics staff used simple economic concepts to uncover fundamental technical flaws in the approach used in the state’s analysis. In particular, our analysis found that the relatively small local plume had no material impacts on regional water use because groundwater extraction was not limited by the total amount of groundwater available in the region, but rather by downstream flow requirements dictated by interstate compacts. As a result, the water pumped from the well closed due to contamination could be accessed from another location at modest cost with no net loss of water availability.


The analysis showed that the contamination did not disrupt the provision of any of the services of groundwater. The case was tried in federal court, dismissed on summary judgement (the judge cited our testimony in his findings), and upheld on appeal.

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Dr. Ted Tomasi has more than 40 years of experience as a natural resource economist, specializing in the valuation of... Full bio

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