According to a report released by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, restoration efforts would not only create new employment opportunities, but also generate millions of dollars in income and increase property values. The Baltimore Sun reports:
Even in its degraded condition, the bay still is a significant job and income generator, the report says. Though the seafood industry is a shadow of its historic self, it still employed about 11,000 people in Maryland who earned $150 million in 2008. About 7,200 people worked in recreational fishing, while recreational boating supported 35,025 jobs in an industry estimated to be worth more than $2 billion annually.
Installing pollution controls and restoring lost wildlife habitat can generate and sustain jobs, the report contends. A University of Virginia study projected that 12,000 temporary one-year jobs could be created if that state’s farmers took sufficient steps to reduce polluted runoff from their lands by planting trees alongside streams and sowing cover crops in their fields in winter.
Similarly, the foundation says, upgrading sewage treatment plants supports hundreds of construction jobs, while upgrading residential septic systems also provides work for installers, electricians and other trades people. An example of that cited in the report is Mayer Brothers, Inc., in Elkridge, which reportedly avoided having to lay off employees when it won a contract from the Maryland Department of the Environment to help furnish new septic technology. And an Arbutus company employs 115 fulltime plus 100 subcontractors in doing work to mitigate for the storm-water pollution produced by development, it notes.
Better water quality also should boost property values, the report argues, pointing to a study suggesting a six percent increase along Maryland’s western shore if waterfrtont bacteria levels could be reduced to safely swimmable levels.
There’s no hiding the fact that cleaning up the bay costs money, and increasing the effort is likely to cost more. But the foundation report argues there’s an upside to that expense that cleanup critics are overlooking.