Since the promulgation of natural resource damage assessment (NRDA) regulations in 1986, substantial experience has been gained from the NRDAs conducted throughout the United States. These NRDAs encompass a variety of hazardous substances, affected natural resources, and resource services. The NRDAs have ranged from full-scale assessment and litigation among the various parties to cooperative undertakings. W.H. Desvousges & Associates, Inc. has been actively involved in damage assessments since their inception. We are able to offer our clients a full range of strategic and economic services to help them address their NRDA concerns.
Assessment Design and Planning

W.H. Desvousges & Associates, Inc. has written several assessment plans and has written comments on trustees’ assessment plans for many major damage assessments. We also have conducted numerous assessments for a diverse range of resources and locations. This experience enables us to assist our clients with a range of needs that might arise as part of planning an NRDA. We have had considerable experience in working as part of an assessment team to develop the necessary linkages between the natural science studies and the economic studies to ensure that the assessment is fully integrated.

Participating in Cooperative Assessments

W.H. Desvousges & Associates, Inc. has participated in several cooperative assessments, including the Lavaca Bay assessment, which has been used by many as the model for cooperative assessments. We can assist our clients by participating in technical working group meetings to resolve key human use issues or help evaluate restoration alternatives. Because of our technical knowledge and experience, we are able to effectively represent our clients in either informal meetings or in formal negotiation sessions that may end up being part of a cooperative assessment.

Participating in Full-Scale Type B Assessments

W. H. Desvousges & Associates, Inc. has provided a variety of services as part of Type B damage assessments. Chief among these include:

  • Developing survey and sampling plans
  • Developing and testing survey questionnaires
  • Managing complex surveys using a variety of methods including mail, telephone, internet, in-person, and mixed modes
  • Developing state-of-the-art recreation models
  • Developing groundwater use service assessments
  • Evaluating the reliability of various methods for measuring damages, especially stated preference methods
  • Conducting/evaluating habitat equivalency analyses
  • Preparing comprehensive reports

Details on each of these areas are available upon request, or by reviewing the reports developed for past assessments.

Participating in Litigation

W.H. Desvousges & Associates, Inc. has participated in several important NRDA litigations over the past 20 years. Dr. Desvousges has been qualified as an expert in federal court. He has given deposition testimony in numerous NRDA cases. These cases have involved groundwater, surface water, wetlands, and various other types of natural resources. W. H. Desvousges & Associates, Inc. also has experience in providing litigation support, including help with depositions of other expert witnesses. We have written numerous expert reports on potential losses from hazardous substance releases.

Strategic Planning and Evaluation

Because of our extensive knowledge of the damage assessment regulations and the practical experience gained in working on many damage assessments during the past 20 years, W.H.Desvousges & Associates, Inc. can assist our clients in determining the best strategic approach for a particular damage assessment. Our experience ranges from expedited settlements of modest cases to complicated litigation involving multiple resource services. We are able to advise our clients as to the advantages and disadvantages of each approach. We also have worked in various settings, including some of the more effective cooperative assessments. We also have extensive knowledge of the approaches that natural resource trustees commonly use in damage assessments, and the critical issues that can arise with each approach. We also have been able to independently evaluate assessments that are being conducted by others to determine whether the current strategic approach is working or whether another alternative might be more fruitful.

Participating in Expedited Assessments

Sometimes clients find themselves in a situation where they want to settle an NRDA case quickly and as cost-effectively as possible. W.H. Desvousges & Associates, Inc. has assisted many clients by conducting expedited assessments that enable settlement offers to be developed and implemented. These expedited assessments use available data and models to develop ranges of potential losses for various service losses. They also evaluate potential restoration projects that can serve as part, if not all, of the settlement offer. We also have assisted clients by helping to present the settlement offer to natural resource trustees so that the underlying factual data and models can be clearly explained.

Property Value Studies

W.H. Desvousges & Associates, Inc. has conducted a large number of studies involving potential diminution in property values, usually alleged to have occurred as a result of some form of environmental release. Our services include developing rigorous study designs, data collection and analyses. We often work in tandem with local appraisers to obtain the necessary data. We often critique the work conducted by other experts as part our services. Our emphasis is on the use of market-based data and sophisticated statistical analyses. We have been involved in motions to certify classes as well as evaluating the merits of a case once a class has been certified. We have provided expert witness services as part of our work in this area.

Clean Water Act Section 316b Economic Services

W.H. Desvousges & Associates has played an active role in providing economic services to clients facing regulatory decisions related to Section 316b of the Clean Water Act. Our emphasis has been on the use of benefit cost analysis to evaluate technologies to limit the impingement and entrainment of fish in the cooling water intake systems of power plants and other industrial users. Our services include both designing benefit cost studies, providing strategic advice related to the use of benefit cost analyses, and providing peer reviews of applications of benefit cost analyses.