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#1 Oct-09-14 4:25PM

From: Ashburn VA
Registered: Feb-03-06
Posts: 13122

The Economic Benefits of Cleaning Up the Chesapeake

Is the Game Worth the Candle?
The Economic Benefits of Cleaning Up the Chesapeake

To: Chesapeake Anglers for Clean Water
From: John Page Williams, CBF Senior Naturalist
Re: A New Report from CBF
Date: October 10, 2014

For the past five years, many groups ranging from county boards of commissioners to national trade councils have complained that the expected benefits of the federal/state/local Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint won’t equal the costs.  On Monday, October 6, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation provided an answer to them in a new, peer-reviewed report, entitled The Economic Benefits of Cleaning Up the Chesapeake. 

Compiled by Dr. Spencer Phillips of Key-Log Economics, LLC in Charlottesville, VA, and Dr. Beth McGee, CBF’s Senior Water Quality Scientist, the report’s research draws a direct line between the health of the Bay and its rivers and streams and the economic well-being of the region’s people, communities, and industries.  It is broad-based, but it has profound implications for fish habitat and the fisheries of the Chesapeake/Susquehanna watershed, including both tidal species like rockfish and speckled trout and upstream fish like smallmouth bass and brook trout. 

It also finds that improved water quality as a result of fully implementing the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint will create large increases in the value of the benefits provided by Nature. Those benefits spread throughout the vast Chesapeake Bay watershed.  These conclusions led CBF’s President, Will Baker, to remark that “For the benefit of our environment and our economy, we must accelerate implementation of the Blueprint.” 

What follows is a quick summary of the Economic Report’s contents.  You can also see a graphic summary on the Foundation’s web site at,
read a six-page Executive Summary, and download the full 56-page report. 

What is this Economic Report?

•    The report is the first-ever economic analysis of the value of natural benefits that the Bay and its rivers, streams, and forests provide to the region’s residents, pre- and post-Blueprint.
•    These natural benefits include Bay recreation, seafood and farming production, aesthetics (including property values), clean drinking water, flood control, and pollution reduction.

What are the findings?

•    Pre-Blueprint:  In 2009 (before the Blueprint) the lands and waters of the Chesapeake Bay region provided baseline economic benefits totaling $107.2 billion annually. These benefits include air and water filtering, agricultural and seafood production, enhancement of property values, and protection from floods and hurricanes.
•    Post-Blueprint: The value of same benefits will increase by $22 billion annually to $129.7 billion if the Blueprint is implemented. Once fully realized, those benefits – which are spread throughout the watershed -- would accrue year after year.
•    “Business as Usual”:  If the Blueprint is not fully implemented, pollution loads will increase and the value of the natural benefits will decline by $5.6 billion annually to $101.5 billion.  The value of the Bay region’s natural benefits will decline further after 2025 as additional pollution continues to degrade our natural resources. (Note: The Business as Usual scenario was based on Chesapeake Bay Program modeling; it includes prescribed practices that were already underway as of 2014 and will continue to be implemented, including upgrading sewage treatment plants and reducing some urban and suburban polluted runoff.)
What this all means at the end of the day is that fully implementing the Blueprint provides tremendous economic and environmental benefits to the region. Conversely, failure to fully implement would be economically and environmentally dangerous.

How did the authors conduct the study?

To analyze the benefits that the Chesapeake Bay’s watershed provides, the authors:
•    Established a 2009 baseline of environmental condition of seven types of habitat within the Bay watershed;
•    Calculated how the productivity of these habitats would change if the Blueprint were fully implemented or, alternatively, not implemented;
•    Drew from existing economic studies to calculate the dollar value of eight natural benefits (also called “ecosystem services”) that we enjoy and that are supplied by these habitats.

What this study examines: The report provides estimates of the dollar-value of eight “ecosystem services” for seven land uses in three scenarios:
•    Eight ecosystem services: Air pollution treatment, Climate stability, Food production, Aesthetic value, Recreation, Water supply, Water flow regulation, Waste treatment
•    Seven land uses: Open water, agriculture, forest, urban open, urban other, wetland, other (mostly barren land)
•    Three scenarios: 2009 (pre-Blueprint), 2025 (fully realized Blueprint), “business as usual” (little additional Blueprint implementation beyond regulated activities)

Why is this study important and noteworthy?

Before now, there have been no reliable, comprehensive numbers on the value of the Bay’s natural benefits or how its productivity will be improved by the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint.  CBF’s study provides the first reliable numbers, and this information is crucial for decision-makers. These types of studies are increasingly common and accepted.  They have been used in a variety of regions, including in the Everglades, Puget Sound, the Mississippi Delta, and the Colorado River Basin.

The report’s estimates are conservative:  The authors used the lowest range of values available whenever applicable, and they looked only at the eight natural benefits that were most related to water quality.

What are the costs of the Blueprint?

There are no recent comprehensive estimates of the costs of implementation Baywide, and CBF’s study addressed only benefits, not costs. But for comparison’s sake, we can use estimates derived from the 2004 version of the Bay state cleanup plans known as the “Tributary Strategies.” These strategies formed the basis for the existing state clean-up plans and so offer a rough approximation of Blueprint implementation costs. The estimated cost based on full implementation over an eight-year period was roughly $6 billion per year (in 2013 dollars); however, we now estimate clean water investments that have occurred since that time reduce the number nearer to $5 billion. 

In addition, history has shown that innovation and new technologies will lower pollution reduction costs.  Even so, when compared with this rough estimate of its annual cost ($5 billion), the Blueprint will return benefits to the region each year at a rate of four times the cost of the cleanup.

What are the state-specific findings?

Each of the states in the watershed will see substantially enhanced benefits. Virginia, more than $8.3 billion annually; Pennsylvania $6.2 billion annually; and Maryland $4.6 billion annually. In all cases, forests generated the largest values, because more than half (55 percent) of the watershed is forested and because the services they provide--filtering drinking water, reducing flooding, providing recreation and beauty--are highly valued.

For some good infographics on the Economic Report, visit: … fographics

What are other people saying about the Economic Report?

"Key-Log's analysis is logical, comprehensive, defensible, transparent, and cautious. The report applies the findings of more than 70 previous studies to calculate the most conservative estimates of economic benefits.

"Like a heart muscle whose health depends on what we eat, drink, and breathe, the Chesapeake watershed sustains life throughout our mid-Atlantic region. On behalf of our grandchildren, the Bay Blueprint offers a return on investment far in excess of its costs."

Dr. Mike Ellerbrock, Agricultural and Applied Economics Professor, Virginia Tech

"Visit the City Dock area of Annapolis on a summer day and it's obvious the Chesapeake has economic value as a destination for tourism and recreation. But this report shows the health of the Bay affects that economic value. It is a reminder that restoring the Chesapeake will benefit our communities and businesses as much as the crabs and oysters."
Paul Cohen, Vice President, Preferred Hospitality Group, consultants to the international travel and tourism industry. Mr. Cohen is a Maryland resident, and a Chesapeake Bay lover. Among other successes, he consulted on a venture that brings Chinese tourists to enjoy the Bay and Annapolis.

What is the Economic Report’s bottom line for Chesapeake Anglers?  If you’re tired of business as usual--seeing empty, oxygen-depleted “bad water” on your fishfinder, or looking for underwater grass beds that have disappeared, or catching rockfish with sores, or worrying about water-borne infections, or even paying high costs for drinking water and breathing unhealthy air, learn more about the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint and the serious benefits it offers. 

Then look for ways that you can help your state and locality put the Blueprint to work.  They range from actively supporting clean water programs like stormwater utilities to helping farmers plant streamside buffers and restoring oyster reefs.  Follow CBF’s Anglers for Clean Water to find opportunities:   

Capt. John Page Williams     10/10/14
Senior Naturalist
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
6 Herndon Avenue
Annapolis, MD 21403
410-268-8816, x2041
410-279-1385 (cell)
Help Us Save the Bay: Join our Action Network at

Time to go fishin' again!



#2 Oct-10-14 8:07AM

Patagonian Toothfish
From: Bealeton, VA
Registered: Mar-18-11
Posts: 959

Re: The Economic Benefits of Cleaning Up the Chesapeake

Great stuff.

I can only imagine what fishing and crabbing in the bay would be like if we really cleaned it up.

tight lines



#3 Oct-20-14 8:48AM

Patagonian Toothfish
Registered: Jan-31-12
Posts: 1082

Re: The Economic Benefits of Cleaning Up the Chesapeake

This is what I do for a living.

Their analysis is not transparent, but has some truth.  I'm sure their numbers are inflated but every c/b analysis is.



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