June 21, 2024

Uncovering the Economic Impact of Harmful Algae Blooms in Southwest Florida: An Event by The League of Women Voters and Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation

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The League of Women Voters of Lee County is hosting an event titled “The Impacts of Water Quality on the Economy” and invites the public and League members to join. The event will take place on Saturday, April 6 from 9 to 11 a.m. at The Collaboratory at 2031 Jackson St. in Fort Myers. The program will begin at 9:30 a.m., and attendees can choose to participate in person or via Zoom. To register, interested individuals can visit Eventbrite, send an email to lwvlee@lwvlee.org, or call 239-278-1032.

During the event, Matt DePaolis, the environmental policy director at the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF), will present the results of a recent study on the economic impacts of water quality in Southwest Florida. The study was conducted by Greene Economics and commissioned by Captains for Clean Water, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, and SCCF.

The study revealed that significant economic losses can result from Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs) in Southwest Florida. In Lee County alone, these losses amounted to $195 million in recreational and commercial fishing revenues and expenditures. Additionally, an estimated 24,808 jobs could be lost in a year with an estimated loss in output of $3 billion. Property values could see a decrease of $3.8 billion, resulting in a loss of $21.4 million in property tax revenue. Furthermore, non-market recreation (quality of life) was lost at an estimated value of $5.3 billion due to HABs’ impact on tourism and outdoor activities enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.

DePaolis brings extensive expertise in environmental and marine biology to his role as Policy Director at SCCF where he advocates for policies based on scientific research conducted by SCCF’s team of scientists.

He has a background as a field biologist working with organizations such as United Nations and Wild Salmon Center focusing on climate litigation, fisheries policy, water quality regulations among other environmental issues.

This event aims to provide valuable insights into how poor water quality affects not only our environment but also our economy – making it crucial for everyone involved to understand its significance and learn ways to mitigate its negative effects while promoting sustainable practices that benefit both our ecosystems and communities alike.

The League welcomes everyone who wishes to learn more about this topic or contribute their knowledge towards finding solutions for better water quality management!

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