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The Economic Case for Cleaning Up the Chesapeake Bay

Chesapeake workboatWhy invest in pollution reduction projects to meet new EPA pollution limits for the Chesapeake Bay?  Because it is essential for our region’s economy, as well as the Bay’s ecology. 

Here are some facts about the economic value of the Chesapeake Bay and cleanup projects that you might not know:

• The commercial seafood industry in Maryland and Virginia contributes more than $3 billion in a year in sales, $890 million in income, and almost 34,000 jobs to the local economy.

• Nearly two million people go fishing in Pennsylvania each year, contributing over $1.6 billion to the economy.

• Roughly eight million wildlife watchers spend about $636 million, $960 million, and
$1.4 billion a year in Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, respectively, on trip-related expenses and equipment.

• The total impact on the Maryland economy from recreational boating is estimated to be about $2.03 billion and 35,025 jobs annually. Similarly, Pennsylvania residents spend $1.7 billion on boating annually, and Virginia residents also spend generously on this pastime.

• Clean water can increase the value of single family homes up to 4,000 feet from the water’s edge by up to 25 percent.

• The cost associated with exposure to polluted recreational waters is $37 per gastrointestinal illness, $38 per ear ailment, and $27 per eye ailment due to lost wages and medical care.

• A single sewage treatment plant upgrade and connected stormwater pollution control tunnel in is creating tens of thousands of jobs and $3 billion in local investments.

For more information, and the sources of these numbers, read the whole report by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, “The Economic Argument for Cleaning Up the Chesapeake Bay and its Rivers.”

Restoring The Chesapeake and its rivers and streams should not be thought of as merely a cost, as some suggest. Restoring clean water is an investment that pays real returns.

By Tom Pelton

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

(Photo from Chesapeake Bay Program)


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