Continuing degradation of river ecosystems and environmental disruption are widespread in Chinese metropolitan areas. The study on the residents' preference for river ecosystem restoration is an essential part of assessing the environmental benefit and cost for policies implementation. A contingent valuation method is applied to estimate the public demand for urban river restoration in Hangzhou and Nanjing of the Yangtze River Delta, China. By employing an interval model, it was estimated the average individual's willingness to pay (WTP) for urban river restoration is about 42.4 Yuan for two cities, 52.4 Yuan in Hangzhou and 35.7 Yuan in Nanjing respectively with total sample size of 1,518. It is also found that elders and households that have child or pets are willing to pay a higher amount, while households registered in locally and residents living a longer time around the river are willing to pay less. Although the public's preferences represented differences in regions since a gap exists in natural endowments, social environment, and the relationship between people action and river (or water), the analysis indicated that some factors influencing the WTP in those two cities are similar. The results suggested that there is strong public demand for environmental improvement on urban rivers.
Keywords: contingent valuation method, CVM, willingness to pay, WTP, river restoration, demographics, China, urban rivers, river ecosystems, public demand, environmental improvement