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Great Lakes

Understanding the Cost of Invasives

“We need to find ways to have healthy economic activity intersect with a healthy environment.”

Gerry Anderson, chairman and CEO of DTE Energy

From governments and the fishing industry to power companies and the lakeshore homeowner, aquatic invasive species cost the Great Lakes region hundreds of millions each year.

In 2009 and 2010, the eight states in the Great Lakes basin spent nearly $31 million on aquatic invasive species, with Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois ranking among the top spenders.

The Great Lakes Fishery Commission spends $18 million each year on a sea lamprey control program. It costs one Great Lakes power plant $1.2 million annually to monitor and control zebra mussels, and for one municipal water treatment plant, $353,000 each year.

These costs trickle down to the everyday consumer, too. Some lakeshore homeowners will pay $355 for the installation of a water filtration system. The 40 million people who get their drinking water from the Great Lakes will see higher water bills. And, the general price of food from the Great Lakes may increase because of overall low fish production stemming from aquatic invasives.

The cost of aquatic invasive species directly and indirectly impacts everyone. These costs are real, and many of them haven’t been fully analyzed and calculated.

In an effort to better understand the true costs of aquatic invasive species in the Great Lakes basin, The Nature Conservancy recently commissioned the widely respected analysts at Anderson Economic Group (AEG) to perform the research and analysis needed to sort the hype from the reality.

This new report, “The Costs of Aquatic Invasive Species to Great Lakes States,” details the many ways aquatic invasive species (AIS) impose economic costs in the Great Lakes region and outlines how indirect costs are spread across the economy.

“We need to find ways to have healthy economic activity intersect with a healthy environment,” said Gerry Anderson, chairman and CEO of DTE Energy. “Aquatic invasive species are a serious threat to the Great Lakes, one that could significantly harm natural resources and our pocketbooks. It’s important to support organizations like The Nature Conservancy whose approach to conservation provides an opportunity to implement win-win solutions not just for the environment, but for people too.”

AEG’s report provides a conservative, bottom-line clarification to previously released data and reports that have sometimes appeared to conflict with one another. Even by the most conservative estimates, the bottom line remains: aquatic invasive species cost businesses and residents in the Great Lakes basin hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

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