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North Branch Potomac (MD) Report Links Water Quality with Recreational Economies

Posted: 01/06/2011
By: Kevin Colburn

A report released today links acid mine drainage remediation on the North Branch of the Potomac River with significant regional economic benefits of angling and paddling.  The Report, prepared by Downstream Strategies for the Maryland State Water Quality Advisory Committee, reveals a compelling and cautionary case study of the economic benefits of protecting and restoring rivers.  

As many paddlers know, the North Branch of the Potomac was severely impacted by bright orange acidic mine drainage for much of the last half century. The North Branch was a "dead" stream, incapable of supporting fish or many other aquatic organisms.  The infrastructure of the Jennings Randolph Dam had to be built with stainless steel to resist acidic corrosion.  Beginning in the early 1990's, the State began building "dosers" that add limestone or other basic materials to impacted streams in the watershed to neutralize the acid.  The results far exceeded expectations, and today the North Branch supports a native species, a robust trout fishery, and whitewater paddling.

The Report finds that angling and paddling related tourism results in direct regional spending of $2.1 million and an economic benefit topping $3 million.  The annual cost of operating the dosers, which must continue to operate to protect the gains in water quality, is a relatively small $321,000.  As funding for the dosing program is anticipated to wane, this economic and environmental report will help justify the program's continuation.

This report offers a window into what most paddlers recognize - healthy rivers have incredible value: ecologically, recreationally, and economically.  

Read the report here.

      

Kevin Colburn

Asheville, NC

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Associated Rivers

Potomac, North Branch WV
Potomac, North Branch MD
Potomac, North Branch MD
Potomac, North Branch MD

Events

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May 2018

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Potomac, North Branch Release
10:00 am -4:00 pm america/new_york
1000 cfs

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Potomac, North Branch Release
10:00 am -4:00 pm america/new_york
1000 cfs

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Potomac, North Branch Release
10:00 am -4:00 pm america/new_york
1000 cfs

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Potomac, North Branch Release
10:00 am -4:00 pm america/new_york
1000 cfs

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Events
Potomac, North Branch Release Luke,MD runs 08/26/06 - 05/20/18
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