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The Economic Benefits of Cleaning Up the Chesapeake

October 6, 2014

Information on the economic benefits of environmental improvement is an important consideration for anyone (firms, organizations, government agencies, and individuals) concerned about the cost-effectiveness of changes in management designed to achieve that improvement. In the case of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment), these benefits would accrue due to improvements in the health, and therefore productivity, of land and water in the watershed. These productivity changes occur both due to the outcomes of the TMDL and state implementation plans, also known as a "Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint" itself (i.e., cleaner water in the Bay) as well as a result of the measures taken to achieve those outcomes that have their own beneficial side effects. All such changes are then translated into dollar values for various ecosystem services, including water supply, food production, recreation, aesthetics, and others. By these measures, the total economic benefit of the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint is estimated at $22.5 billion per year (in 2013 dollars), as measured as the improvement over current conditions, or at $28.2 billion per year (in 2013 dollars), as measured as the difference between the Clean Water Blueprint and a business-as-usual scenario. (Due to lag times—it takes some time for changes in land management to result in improvements in water quality, the full measure of these benefits would begin to accrue sometime after full implementation of the Blueprint.) These considerable benefits should be considered alongside the costs and other economic aspects of implementing the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint.

2012 State of the Bay Report

January 9, 2013

In the 2012 State of the Bay report, five of 13 indicators improved, seven stayed the same, and only one declined. Overall, the score advanced one point since it was last issued in 2010, when it jumped three points. That is an improvement of over 10 percent in less than five years.

The Economic Argument for Cleaning Up the Chesapeake Bay and its Rivers

May 1, 2012

Failure to "Save the Bay" threatens the Bay's value as an economic driver. Conversely, investing in clean-water technology creates jobs, generates economic activity, and saves money in the long run. Hence, the protection and restoration of the Chesapeake is essential for a healthy and vibrant regional economy. This CBF report takes a close look at the relationship between clean water and the Bay region's local economies.

Accountability: Water Quality Trading in the Chesapeake Bay

January 1, 2012

The purpose of this paper is to identify critical elements of an effective trading program. Even if a substantial number of trades are made, the silver bullet will miss its target by a wide margin unless trading programs satisfy these minimal requirements. An equally likely and unfortunate scenario is that agricultural operators will decline the invitation to participate in trading programs, preferring to go about business as usual without sanctioning what they perceive to be quasi-regulation. Under either scenario, implementing unworkable and ineffective trading regimes will only serve to distract policymakers from making the hard choices necessary to ensure real and lasting gains. Trading is a means, not an end. If it fails, it should go. Bay states should be prepared with contingency plans should trading markets fail to perform as expected, including plans to implement mandatory programs for agricultural reductions to achieve the Bay TMDL if pollution reductions fall behind schedule.

2014 State of the Bay Report

December 23, 2010

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation's 2014 State of the Bay report presents a mix of good and bad news. The great news: Water quality indicator scores have improved significantly over the 2010 and 2008 scores. The worrisome news: Blue crabs and striped bass are not doing well. The declines in these metrics and in the phosphorus indicator offset the improvements in water quality. Overall, the 2014 score is unchanged from 2012.

2010 State of the Bay Report

December 23, 2010

A Bay Health Index of only 31 versus a score of 100 when Colonial settlers arrived is a sad testament to how we have treated a National Treasure. The index has increased three points since it was last issued for 2008. Eight of CBF's 13 State of the Bay indicators have improved this year. In 2008, Maryland and Virginia set science-based regulations to curtail female crab catch, and this year's crab score leapt by 15 points. Underwater grasses, once devastated by pollution, are doing much better. That indicator score advanced by two. The dissolved oxygen, buffers, water clarity, and toxics scores showed measurable progress as well.

On the Brink: Chesapeake's Native Oysters

July 1, 2010

This CBF report finds that Chesapeake Bay oysters are developing natural resistance to the diseases that have so devastated the Bay's oyster population in recent decades and calls for additional sanctuaries to repopulate the species.

How Nutrient Trading Could Help Restore the Chesapeake Bay

January 1, 2010

The largest estuary in the United States, the Chesapeake Bay is a vital economic, cultural, and ecological resource for the region and the nation. Excess runoff and discharges of nutrients -- particularly nitrogen and phosphorus -- from farms, pavement, wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), and other sources have placed the bay on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) List of Impaired Waters. This nutrient pollution is responsible for creating large algal blooms that lead to "dead zones" in the bay (Chesapeake Bay Program, 2009b). Despite decades of restoration efforts, progress has been slow, and the rivers and streams that drain into the Bay remain polluted (Chesapeake Bay Program, 2009b).

Nutrient Trading in the Chesapeake Bay Region: An Analysis of Supply and Demand

January 1, 2010

This report provides an overview of nutrient trading programs as they currently exist in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and examines the potential for supply and demand of credits within those markets. In addition, the analysis considers the potential impacts of Bay-wide Total Maximum Daily Loads on nutrient trading - particularly those on the agricultural sector's ability to generate credits.

Bad Water 2009: The Impact on Human Health in the Chesapeake Bay Region

July 7, 2009

The report links pollution to human health risks and calls on the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to act now to reduce that pollution and the potential threats to human health.

Evaluation Framework for Water Quality Trading Programs in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed

January 1, 2009

Water quality trading programs are being proposed and implemented across the US in a variety of forms and with differing objectives. The programs being proposed and implemented in the Chesapeake Bay region are no exception. Against this background the Chesapeake Bay Program's Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee and the Mid-Atlantic Water Program requested a general framework to inform and guide the evaluation of the performance trading programs. This resulting report was developed by a workgroup comprised of ten individuals with extensive experience in the study, design, and evaluation of trading programs. While the impetus for this report was to improve evaluation of trading programs in the Chesapeake Bay region, the evaluation framework is broad enough to apply to trading programs in general.

The Role of Tradable Permits in Water Pollution Control

January 1, 2003

This paper was prepared as a conceptual framework to stimulate discussions on the role and applicability of tradable permits in water pollution control among participants of the Technical Seminar on the Feasibility of the Application of Tradable Water Permits for Water Management in Chile (13-14 November 2003 in Santiago de Chile). In Chile, water pollution is a major problem. Until recently, existing regulations to control water pollution consisted mainly of non-market based instruments. Innovative instruments are now being explored via a recent national law for tradable emission/discharge permits. The instrument of tradable discharge permits is one of several market-based instruments used in water management and pollution control. Tradable discharge permits are actually among the most challenging market-based instruments in terms of both their design and implementation. Experience to date with tradable discharge permits for water pollution control has been limited and mainly comes from several regions of the US and Australia. The paper at first introduces tradable permits as part of an overall taxonomy of economic instruments in the field of water management. In this context, three fundamentally different fields of application of tradable permits systems relating to water are presented: tradable water abstraction rights, tradable rights to water-based resources and tradable water pollution rights. The remaining of the paper deals exclusively with the latter category, i.e. tradable water pollution rights, their role and applicability in water pollution control.