Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 2006


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Graduate Center for Social and Public Policy


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Richard A. Colignon

Committee Member

Joseph D. Yenerall

Committee Member

Stanley Kabala


BOD, Colombia, developing countries, economic instruments, pollution policies, TSS, water pollution charges, water pollution control


As part of the pollution control effort several developing countries have established economic-based initiatives to improve environmental quality. In this study the Colombian water pollution charge, which was implemented in 1997, is analyzed. The two key questions that this study attempts to answer are: 1) Does the performance of the pollution charge program in Colombia undermine the notion that economic instruments are not feasible in developing countries? 2) Which factors determine the performance of the water pollution charge program across regional environmental agencies in Colombia?

The answer to these questions provides valuable information for developing countries looking for more efficient and optimal ways to approach pollution control. These questions are answered through the analysis of data from the first five years of the program's implementation (1997-2002). The data sample is composed of 255 polluters in

three representative environmental agencies: CORNARE, CORALINA and CODECHOCO.

The findings suggest that the success of the Colombian case contradicts the economic theory notion that economic instruments are unfeasible in developing countries. Even though, the water pollution program was not successful across all regional environmental agencies in Colombia, there are regional environmental agencies where

the program was successful in reducing pollution levels. This success is related to the

overcoming of the unfavorable circumstances by such agencies.

It was also found that the factors that seem to explain the differences in the performance of water pollution charge program across national environmental agencies are related to social, economic and institutional aspects, such as: economic subactivity, percent amount collected by the environmental agency, basin group, program

cost, GDP, min rate, fee invoiced and basin group.

It is suggested that the economic theory can be reconciliated with the findings of this study by qualifying the different regional environmental agencies in Colombia as "developed" and "developing". It can be said that "developing" agencies present unfavorable circumstances that limit their effectiveness for the application of economic instruments.