WASHINGTON (WJZ) — Setting a dollar amount on the Chesapeake Bay. A new study released Monday compiled the numbers.
Alex DeMetrick reports they add up to $100 billion.
It takes 64,000 square miles of watershed to fill the Chesapeake Bay. Six states upstream are under federal orders to make that water cleaner by preserving woodlands near streams, reducing the hard surfaces that come with development and controlling what runs off farms. All are sources of nutrient pollution that create algae blooms and dead zones.
“What we need to do to clean up just this part of the bay will include clean practices that will have local benefits,” said Dr. Beth McGee, Chesapeake Bay Foundation scientist.
And a study commissioned by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation breaks those benefits into dollars.
The study sets the current impact of the bay at $107 billion annually. If cleanup goals are met, it would rise to nearly $130 billion a year, an increase of over $22 billion dollars.
“The environment and the economy are simply two sides of the same coin,” said Will Baker, president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
“Many of the benefits are upstream,” McGee said.
The study calculates a cleaner environment would increase property values, make farms more efficient, add natural buffers to protect against storms and leave a healthier bay with larger seafood production.
If a healthier bay means more money, doing nothing to improve it could trigger a loss.
“A loss of about $5.5 billion ever year if we stop doing what we’re doing now,” McGee said.
The bay’s economic benefits were added up from all of the states in the watershed. Maryland’s share is currently $16 billion a year.
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