Economics & Policy Analysis

The Balmoral Group provides practical advice and guidance to our clients on complex and often confusing issues related to economics. The current economic environment requires a combination of innovation and a solid grasp of economic fundamentals. Our economists have their feet planted firmly in reality, and our clients will attest to the practical application of our policy recommendations and project outcomes. Our research and analysis projects are carefully managed, with clearly defined goals, specific and measurable results, and a focused step-by-step path from start to finish. We rigorously manage project tasks to ensure a timely and useful product. Results are meaningful only if they can be readily understood and implemented, and our experience in preparing and presenting professional and clearly written reports is critical to delivering value for our clients and their constituents.

Development of Parcel-Level Urban Consumption Estimates for the U.S. Geological Survey Peninsular Florida Model for Groundwater Recharge and Water Conservation Potential

St Johns River Water Management District

The objective of this project was to advance conservation of urban water use. The Balmoral Group was retained to produce a geodatabase that could be used by local utilities and the Water Management District to support property‐level analysis of conservation opportunities. In addition, scientists in the groundwater modeling department used the results in their analyses of groundwater recharge. The study relied on monthly use data for 6.6 million properties. Based on the load profiles assigned to each property, total estimated public supply and domestic groundwater self‐supply for Florida counties ranged from 5,273 to 7,794 million liters per day, depending on seasonal and climatic conditions.

Analysis of Source Water Protection Programs

Tampa Bay Water

Tampa Bay Water invested in a plan to protect public drinking water sources including groundwater, surface water, and desalination water. The Balmoral Group rigorously analyzed catchment management strategies for returns on investment, costs/benefits, political feasibility, logistics, and other constraints. Choicemodeling of key stakeholders and econometric techniques guided the prioritization of source water protection strategies. A researchdriven report provided valuable guidance for the authority’s twenty year plan for prioritizing source water protection programs and projects.

Cost-Benefit Analysis Tool

Sydney Catchment Authority, Australia

The Sydney Catchment Authority (SCA) allocated project funding to local councils under its Priority Pollutants Infrastructure Grants Program, designed to reduce nutrient, pathogen, and sediment discharges to Sydney’s waterways. To ensure that council-proposed works would be reviewed in a consistent and efficient manner, SCA needed a tool that would include the non‐market benefits and thereby expedite the submittal and evaluation of projects for grant funding. To assist councils in identifying the relevant benefits and costs associated with sewage and storm water infrastructure projects, Balmoral developed a tool that analysed such non-market benefits and costs in terms of both present and future values. The final products included easyto‐use Excel workbooks that considered all appropriate costs and benefits (including water quality and environmental benefits), with user-friendly explanations and examples to allow rapid adoption of the newly standardized prioritization process.

Florida Statewide Agricultural Irrigation Demand

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Agricultural Irrigation comprises 40% of total water use in Florida.  The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) was charged by the 2012-13 legislature with developing a statewide estimate of agricultural water use for the first time, in light of heightened water scarcity.  In fulfilling this mission, a GIS model for estimating current and future water use was developed, using engineering and econometric models to project water demand under multiple scenarios of crop profitability, climate, development pressures, and conservation measures.  Final estimates forecast increases in irrigated acreage for the next twenty years, with net water use slightly higher than current volumes based on continued efficiency and conservation improvements.

Feasibility Study for the Bio-Agriculture Industry

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

This study compiled data through site visits, interviews, surveys and literature searches to identify existing payroll, research expenditures and market gaps in non-food agricultural products. Markets were segmented to Bio-energy, Bio-pharma, Bio-chemical and Bio-controls and cross-tabulated with available research facilities throughout the state. The Balmoral Group developed a GIS database for crop suitability to support Bio-Agriculture, and exhaustive information about research facilities, staffing and funding support. Evaluated capacity of state resources to support expansion of the industry and better commercialize emerging products, and identified industry revenues of more than $1.6 billion, supporting nearly one-fourth of all Florida-based research. 

Development of a Coastal Resiliency Plan

Florida Department of Economic Opportunity

This study evaluated the costs and benefits of alternative adaptation strategies that increase coastal resiliency. The project used economic principles to develop policies for managing and mitigating risks to coastal properties, including sea level rise, which would be appropriate for Martin and Okaloosa Counties’ local comprehensive plans. Using GIS analysis at the parcel level, Balmoral estimated the change in relative benefits from different policy alternatives over time, and calculated the values of incentives necessary to successfully implement specific resiliency policies. Property values and impacts to public infrastructure and natural resources were among the factors in the analysis. Funded by NOAA, the final deliverable is intended to be a template transferrable to all coastal Florida counties. The final deliverable included a narrated presentation which can be found here.

Street Sweeping Optimization Study

Orange County, Florida

This study evaluated the allocation of resources for street sweeping of more than 5,000 Central Florida streets, with an objective of identifying the optimal combination of frequency, equipment, and sediment targets to maximize nutrient reduction. The Balmoral Group created an index using tree canopy data, impervious runoff coefficients, development density, land use type, and impaired water body information to identify relative nutrient loadings for each street segment. TBG then compared the optimal cost allocation to current resource allocation by street segment, and developed recommendations to reallocate about 20% of operating funds and improve pollutant reduction by 90 tons/ year with no additional budgetary outlay. The 90 tons of nitrogen kept out of local waterways represents about $18 million in avoided clean-up costs.

Capital Needs Assessment

Orange County, Florida

This study evaluated the optimal allocation of resources for over 1,000 storm water management projects in Orange County, Florida. Presented with a backlog of approved projects, County administration faced the daunting task of prioritizing capital projects that were documented by different engineers using different design specs, approaches, and cost estimating methods. To assess these projects, The Balmoral Group considered all relevant factors including engineering aspects of flooding, erosion control, water quality issues, demographics, cost, and topographic features. The prioritization methodology revealed how best to allocate project workload on an ongoing basis. TBG combined econometric modeling with GIS to prepare a consistent and realistic prioritization methodology. The innovative approach was constructed to allow for flexibility in project completion and can adapt to changing project importance.

Coastal Resiliency Cost Benefit Analysis, Old Bar, NSW

Office of Environment and Heritage, Australia

Potential strategies to manage the effects of coastal erosion range widely from property easements to engineering solutions. Balmoral Group Australia's approach to coastal erosion at Old Bar, a small coastal community on the mid-north coast of New South Wales, was to estimate economic costs and benefits using spatial techniques in GIS. Incorporating the probabilities of future risk to properties, we assessed the impacts of coastal resiliency strategies on economic activity, quality of life, natural resources and public infrastructure. We also evaluated the range of identified strategies over a variety of scenarios. The resultant report provided Governments with guidance for choosing a mitigation strategy that best suits the specific community traits.