Bad Water Quality is Money Lost

Poor water quality, specifically poor water clarity, can put a damper on your weekend. Swimming in opaque water is a little bit creepy, and green water doesn’t look as nice as clear, blue water. In Missouri, the loss of water clarity is almost always due to either suspended sediment or algae.

The presence of suspended sediment or excess algae in the lake can be linked to activities in the watershed. However, finding the source isn’t usually as hard as doing something about it. You have to convince folks that their actions are bad for the environment, the community, the lake.
Now there’s another tool for convincing people not to pollute. Money. I’m not talking about fines, or punishment of any kind. I’m talking about lost revenue due to pollution. Research from Maine and Wisconsin indicates that the value of lakefront property can drop significantly with a decrease in water clarity. Water clarity is apparently an important factor for people buying property on lakes.

The Maine study found that a 3 foot decrease in water clarity meant a loss of 10% to 20% in the selling price of lakefront property. That equals $594 per frontage foot in the case of the Maine study. Just as interesting is the fact that property values increased with improved water clarity. A 3 foot increase in water clarity sent property values up $423 per foot of frontage.

The benefits of higher water quality aren’t reserved solely for the landowners on the lakes, either. Increased property values means increased tax revenues for the communities around the lake. Depending upon the size of the town, such an increase could translate into big bucks for city services and schools.

Tony Thorpe

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