Pollution Reduces Property Values

Degraded water quality degrades property values. Photo by Robert Galbraith.

For the second time in seven years a Vermont town has lowered the assessed value of lakeside property due to pollution, according to Vermont Public Radio. In both cases, the towns in question were located on St. Albans Bay where blue-green algae blooms routinely develop during the summer. St. Albans Town reduced values in 2008 during a regular reappraisal of properties. Just recently, the town of Georgia followed suit, reducing the assessed value of 37 properties on Ferrand Road by $50,000. The change will remove $1.8 million from the town’s grand list.

The actions of the Georgia lister, Bill Hinman, provide concrete evidence that water quality affects our economy. Hinman identified a 25% difference between the sales price of a property not seeing algae blooms compared to those that are. These results are in line with a recent pilot project conducted by Ciara Low, a University of Vermont (UVM) undergraduate student who analyzed the price of properties across a range of water quality conditions for a summer research project last year. Low found a reduction in property price of between $1,500 and $16,000 for every microgram per Liter increase in chlorophyll, an indicator of algae density.