Executive Summary

The water, natural resources, and ecosystems in the Maryland Coastal Bays watershed contribute an economic value of $1 to $3 billion annually to the regional Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia economy. This report examines that economic value in three different ways:

    1. Economic value directly related to the Maryland Coastal Bays watershed water resources and habitats. The Maryland Coastal Bays watershed contributes over $1.2 billion in annual economic activity from water quality, water supply, fish/wildlife, recreation, agriculture, forests, and public parks benefits. By state, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia contribute $200 million, $700 million, and $300 million, respectively, to the Coastal Bays watershed annual economy.

    2. Value of goods and services provided by the Maryland Coastal Bays watershed ecosystems. Using natural capital as a measure of value, habitats in the Maryland Coastal Bays watershed provide $3 billion annually in ecosystem goods and services in 2017 dollars, with a net present value (NPV) of $97 billion calculated over a 100-year period. By state, the ecosystem services value of the watershed is $248 million in Sussex County, Delaware; $1.9 billion in Worcester County, Maryland; and $807 million in Accomack County, Virginia.

    3. Employment related to the Maryland Coastal Bays watershed resources and habitats. Using employment as a measure of value, natural resources within the Maryland Coastal Bays watershed directly and indirectly supports over 50,000 jobs with over $1.5 billion in annual wages.

The purpose of these estimates is to demonstrate that the Maryland Coastal Bays watershed provides real and significant economic benefits to the regional economy in Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia and are worthy of investment to keep these natural resources healthy and productive. Estimates were made by taking values from existing literature and studies and applying them to the Maryland Coastal Bays watershed using ecological economics and benefits-transfer techniques described in this report. Values are converted to 2017 dollars based on the change in the Northeast Region Consumer Price Index except where noted.

Note that the values in the three categories are not summed because there is some overlap between certain values within each category that could result in double counting. For example, the jobs of fishermen that contribute to employment and wages are also a factor in the economic activity generated from fishing, and the ecosystem values of forests for water-quality benefits may be at least partially captured in the economic value of water supply. Accurately determining (and eliminating) this overlap is difficult within the scope of this analysis. Some values were not included in these estimates because the data to assess them either are not readily available or do not exist. For example, the full amount of economic activity and jobs associated with the industries that rely on the Maryland Coastal Bays watershed for their processes is not included here, because identifying those companies and gathering information on their economic activity is beyond the scope of this analysis.

Additional Resources
Economic Value of the Maryland Coastal Bays Watershed Report final draft May 23, 2018