CBF Report Finds Broad Economic Benefits in Clean Water

Press Release
November 29, 2010

CBF Report Finds Broad Economic Benefits in Clean Water

(HARRISBURG, PA) -- A new report from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) examines the broad economic benefits of clean water in Pennsylvania and across the watershed and found that investing in clean water technologies creates jobs, generates economic activity and saves money in the long run.

For example, according to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC), nearly 2 million people go fishing in Pennsylvania each year, contributing over $ 1.6 billion to the economy. Among the most popular species for anglers are smallmouth bass and coldwater species, such as brook trout. Unfortunately due to the decline of the smallmouth bass population as a result of water quality problems, the PFBC recently passed a proposal that will mandate the catch-and-release of smallmouth bass in certain areas of the Susquehanna River. In addition, degraded stream habitat has restricted brook trout to a mere fraction of its historical distribution.

"Studies show that people equate things like clean water, clean air, and open spaces with a healthy community, and thus a robust economy," said CBF?s Pennsylvania Executive Director Matt Ehrhart. "Threats to water quality, in particular, threaten our economy because people value clean water for drinking, recreation, tourism, and other uses."

Other nature-based recreation, like wildlife watching and ecotourism, also make major contributions to local economies. In Pennsylvania, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report says that more than 3.6 million people engaged in wildlife-watching activities, and spent $1.4 billion on trip-related expenses and equipment in 2006.

Clean waterways also increase property values. A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study indicated that 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.

Proactive efforts to lessen stormwater flows today reduce future public costs needed to maintain navigation channels, remediate pollution and hazard flooding, and repair infrastructure and property damage caused by excessive runoff. Philadelphia estimates that over the course of installation, their green infrastructure will create more than $2 in benefits for every dollar invested, generating $500 million in economic benefits, $1.3 billion in social benefits, and $400 million in environmental benefits.

"We could save significantly by taking steps to protect our clean water resources. For every $1 that we spend on pollution reduction efforts, we save $27 in drinking water treatment costs. That?s money our communities could be using to rebuild local economies," Ehrhart said.

The complete report is available at cbf.org/economic-report.

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