Abstract: The Chesapeake Bay watershed in Delaware: (1) contributes over $2 billion in annual economic activity from water quality, water supply, ecotourism, recreation, agriculture, forest, open space, and navigation benefits, (2) provides annual ecosystem value of natural goods and services of $3.4 billion ($2010) with a net present value (NPV) of $109.6 billion over a perpetual life time, and (3) is directly/indirectly responsible for 47,000 jobs with $1.2 billion in annual salaries.
Delaware occupies 702 sq mi or just 1% of the 64,000 sq mi Chesapeake Bay watershed while the Chesapeake watershed covers about 35% of Delaware’s land area (1,953 sq mi). Over 140,000 residents or 16% of the First State’s total population of 885,000 live in Delaware in the bay watershed. Over 41,800 people or 11% of total employment work in the Delaware portion of the Chesapeake watershed
Economic activity in the Delaware portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed exceeds $2 billion annually from water quality, water supply, ecotourism, recreation, agriculture, forests, open space, and navigation benefits including: Clean Water Act Restoration ($1,550,543), Water Quality Recreation ($101,629,897), Chesapeake Bay Restoration ($22,200,000), Increased Property Value due to Improved Water Quality ($392,735,030), Water Treatment by Forests ($550,000), Wastewater Treatment ($29,054,000), Septic System Assimilation ($16,099,500), Drinking Water Supply ($50,453,374), Irrigation Water Supply ($11,295,000), Hunting/Fishing/Bird and Wildlife Watching ($108,900,000), Agriculture ($522,000,000), Forest Carbon Storage ($854,600,000), Carbon Sequestration ($2,960,000), Air Pollution Removal ($27,210,000), Building Energy Savings ($5,730,000), Avoided Carbon Emissions ($310,000), Public Park Health Benefits ($188,537,846), Community Cohesion Benefit ($46,156,327), Water Pollution Control ($17,838,849), Air Pollution Mitigation ($1,704,472), and Instream Navigation ($570,000).
The estimated value of natural goods and services provided by ecosystems in the Chesapeake Bay watershed in Delaware is $3.4 billion ($2010) with a net present value of $109.6 billion based on an annual discount rate of 3% over a perpetual life time (over 100 years). Natural goods are commodities that can be sold such as water supply, farm crops, fish, timber, and minerals). Natural services are ecological benefits to society such as flood control by wetlands, water filtration by forests, and fishery habitat by wetlands. Ecosystem services areas within the Chesapeake Bay watershed in Delaware are comprised of habitats such as farmland (55%), forests (23%), and freshwater wetlands (18%).
Ecosystems with the highest natural good values are farmland ($0.6 billion or $2,446 ac/ yr), forest ($28 million or $275 ac/yr), and freshwater wetlands ($22 million or $270 ac/yr). Highest natural ecosystem services values are provided by forests ($1.4 billion or $13,887/ac), freshwater wetlands ($1.1 billion or $13,351/ac), and farmland ($203 million or $827/ac). The Nanticoke River ($786 million), Broad Creek ($557 million), and Choptank River ($490 million) watersheds provide the highest values of annual ecosystem services. Watersheds with the highest per acre ecosystem services include Elk Creek ($11,209/ac), Gravelly Branch ($9,559/ac), Pocomoke ($8750/ac), and Chester River ($8,704/ac) as these systems have high amounts of forests plus wetlands (over 75%).
Jobs in New Castle, Kent, and Sussex counties within the Chesapeake Bay watershed in Delaware total 41,824 with wages of $1.2 billion annually. Jobs pertaining to activities directly associated with the bay and its Delaware tributaries (such as farming, fishing, hunting, recreation, tourism) total 15,000 with $0.4 billion in wages. Ecotourism such as fishing, hunting, and bird/wildlife associated recreation accounts for about 3,700 jobs in the Delaware portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Farming and agricultural habitat conservation accounts for at least 2,500 jobs in the Delaware portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Delaware’s Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan has the potential to fund hundreds of green jobs annually.