Researchers at Ohio State University determined that, when water clarity in Lake Erie increased, property values along the lakeshore jumped 4 to 5 percent.
"This research shows that there is a direct link to environmental amenities and increased economic value," said Dr. Elena Irwin, an associate professor at OSU's Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics.
The new research, funded by the Ohio Sea Grant Program, adds to the growing body of economic data that suggests significant investments in environmental restoration can yield big returns. It comes as the Great Lakes congressional delegation prepares to reintroduce this March legislation to initiate a $20 billion public works project to cleanup the region's globally unique water resources.
So far, that initiative has failed to gain significant traction because it's talked about and viewed narrowly as a big government environmental cleanup project rather than a strategic investment in the region's 21st century development plan.