THE GLOBAL ISSUE
Today, more than 15,000 freshwater bodies in the United States alone are in peril because of nutrient pollution.
The Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) that result because of this pollution, have dire consequences on the communities they affect. Conservatively the estimated cost to the U.S. economy is between $2.2 billion
and $4.6 billion annually. For example, in Florida alone they impact real estate values, health care costs,
the recreational boating and fishing industry, as well as tourism revenues.
Removing even a small fraction of this pollution, using current technologies would cost more
then $3 trillion worldwide.
Health Costs: On average, $22 million is lost annually
(figure includes medical expenses and lost work days) during HAB events.
Fisheries Costs: The annual impact of HABs to commercial fisheries has been estimated to vary
between $13 – $25 million dollars, with an annual average impact of $18 million (2000 dollars).
Tourism Losses: While “red tides” are caused by a different algae, one study in the Florida panhandle
estimated that nearly $6.5 million dollars in economic losses were incurred from 1995-2000 by local
restaurants and hotels. It’s no surprise that tourists don’t visit areas affected by HABs.
Real estate values in Florida’s Lee and Martin counties were found to vary due to levels of Phosphorus
pollution and resultant water quality by $428 – $541 million dollars.
These impacts are replicated around the globe, as communities from Africa to New Zealand, Japan to
Peru, throughout Asia and Europe cope with their freshwater bodies suffering from HABs.