Outdoors: Algae affects home values, report says

As a former property owner at Grand Lake St. Marys I was drawn to a recent Internet report of a study that discussed property values in areas affected by toxic algae. It is not a pretty picture.

I wonder what the elected officials think when they read a study like the one conducted by researchers at Ohio State University. I would hope it would make them think about what they might do to alleviate a problem that has been going on for almost 10 years. And then act on their thoughts.

What might catch their eyes more than anything are the economic aspects.

As the report states, “Properties within one-third of a mile of Grand Lake have lost an estimated total of $51 million in value since the first state-issued water advisories were posted (by the EPA) in 2009 due to toxic blue-green algal blooms.

“In what authors David Wolf and Allen Klaiber believe is the first study of its kind, data from the housing market was used to estimate the potential housing price losses associated with the toxic algae. Wolf and Klaiber gathered data from properties around Grand Lake, Lake Loramie, Indian Lake and Buckeye Lake and found that overall, house sale prices declined between 11 and 17 percent when microcystin concentration levels surpassed the no-drinking threshold set by the World Health Organization. Prices for properties directly adjacent to the lakes fell by more than 22 percent … As policymakers grapple with where, when and how to improve water quality, we hope this research will form an important component of their evaluation of potential policy responses.

“Of the lakes in the study, Grand Lake and Buckeye Lake were said to be the “dirtiest.” The average microcystin concentration levels for both lakes were well above the no-drinking threshold set by the WHO, with Grand Lake’s average microcystin level exceeding the WHO’s no-contact threshold.”

I thought the study’s conclusion was particularly appropriate: “Our conclusion is that homeowners will get the biggest bang for their buck if policies are undertaken that either completely remove algae or prevent algae levels from becoming perceptible in the first place.” The complete report can be found at: ageconsearch.umn.edu/bitstream/235159/2/Wolf%20and%20Klaiber%20-%20Bloom. Then click on the Bloom and Bust link.

I know the state has spent millions, but money doesn’t seem to be the total answer. Some hard, tough policies about phosphorus in the watershed are needed. Right away.

Asian invader: An eight-pound silver carp was caught earlier this summer in the Chicago Area Waterway System, about nine miles from Lake Michigan. That's about 30 miles past electric barriers designed to keep Asian carp out of the system and the Great Lakes.

An autopsy conducted by Southern Illinois University showed that the male silver carp spent a quarter of its life in the Middle Mississippi/Illinois River watershed, a quarter of its life in the Des Plaines River watershed and found its way above the electric barriers within the last few weeks or months before it was caught in a pool below the T.J. O’Brien Lock and Dam.

For more information, visit asiancarp.us/news/Silverautopsy.htm.

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