From the Department of Who Knew, we are enlightened by news gained from reading Chelsea Perkins' article in the Brainerd Dispatch, Environmental economics: WAPOA measures value of clean water:
The water quality in Minnesota lakes has a measurable economic benefit, members of the Whitefish Area Property Owners Association learned at the organization's annual meeting.
Patrick Welle, a professor emeritus from Bemidji State University, studied the relationship extensively and published several papers on the topic. Welle told the group at its June 11 meeting his studies found that not only is the clarity of water a factor in lakeshore property value, it's actually the "most important explanatory factor."
"Economics shows that it is much cheaper to do prevention effectively than it is to try to do mitigation after the fact," Welle said. "And some damages are irreversible."
A study Welle and three others produced in 2003 examined the effect of water quality on lakeshore property values within the Mississippi River headwaters region. This included lakes in Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison and Aitkin counties. The study was later updated with more recent data and resulted in similar conclusions.
"Water quality has a positive relationship with property prices," the 2003 study stated. "Implicit prices of water quality was determined and calculations were made to illustrate the changes in property prices on the study lakes if a 1-meter change in water clarity would occur. Expected property price changes for these lakes are in the magnitude of tens of thousands to millions of dollars. The evidence shows that management of the quality of lakes is important to maintaining the natural and economic assets of this region." . . .
Lake home buyers prefer cleaner water? While we would hope that Minnesotans would value clean water out of the goodness of their deeply-felt ethical systems, at this point, we'll settle for better real estate appraisals.
People in conservative Crow Wing County might not want to invest in sneering at environmentalism. Perkins writes:
According to 2008 data from the University of Minnesota Extension, tourism and second homeownership spending in Crow Wing County is the third highest outside of the Twin Cities metro area.
Watson said these figures are strong evidence of a need to manage water quality and prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.
"Realtors have stated that the first questions people ask when they're looking at lakefront property is, 'Does it have zebra mussels? Does it have milfoil?'" Watson said. "We need to get the attention of elected officials. They have a major asset here."
Photo: Do serpents affect property values? Photo credit:The Crosby Serpent. By Elkman - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=859773.
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