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Nutrient Pollution

The Effects: Economy

Nutrient pollution can have severe economic impacts on recreational fishing, businesses, and tourism.
Nutrient pollution causes millions of dollars in losses to the commercial fishing industry.

Nutrient pollution has diverse and far-reaching effects on the U.S. economy, impacting tourism, property values, commercial fishing, recreational businesses and many other sectors that depend on clean water.

Drinking water costs

Nitrates and algal blooms in drinking water sources can drastically increase treatment costs. Nitrate-removal systems in Minnesota caused supply costs to rise from 5-10 cents per 1000 gallons to over $4 per 1000 gallons.

It can also cost billions of dollars to clean up polluted water bodies. Every dollar spent on protecting sources of drinking water saves in water treatment costs.

Tourism losses

The tourism industry loses close to $1 billion each year, mostly through losses in fishing and boating activities, as a result of water bodies that have been affected by nutrient pollution and harmful algal blooms.

Airborne nutrient pollution can also affect visibility at popular outdoor destinations like national parks. This kind of pollution can also damage buildings and other structures, especially those made of marble and limestone.

Commercial fishing and shellfish losses

Fishing and shellfish industries are hurt by harmful algal blooms that kill fish and contaminate shell fish. Annual losses to these industries from nutrient pollution are estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars.

Real estate losses

Clean water can raise the value of a nearby home by up to 25 percent. Waterfront property values can decline because of the unpleasant sight and odor of algal blooms.