Water Council Member, Fund for Lake Michigan, recently released Measuring the Economic Impact of Water Quality Initiatives: A study of the Fund for Lake Michigan an economic impact study by the Fiscal and Economic Research Center and the Institute for Water Business at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. At a time when the costs to improve and restore Wisconsin waterways is estimated to be $4 billion over the next 20 years, organizations like the Fund for Lake Michigan are providing much-needed funding to nonprofit and government organizations that are conducting projects specifically aimed at improving the quality and health of the Lake Michigan watershed.
This study utilized IMPLAN, an input-output method of analysis, considering both primary impacts caused directly by the Fund and secondary impacts indirectly caused by the Fund’s investment projects. Initial findings of the study show that the Fund’s efforts have paid dividends, creating jobs, raising property values, and raising awareness and demand for locally produced products.
Established in 2008 as part of an agreement over a dispute involving multiple power plants in Southeastern Wisconsin, the Fund for Lake Michigan receives annual payments of $4 million from 2011 through 2035 to fund projects that improve water quality in Lake Michigan, subject to the approval by the Public Service Commission. These payments are a small fraction of a cost, to taxpayers, of the hundreds of millions of dollars it would have cost to continue litigation had a resolution not been agreed upon.
In the three years analyzed, 2011 to 2013, the Fund for Lake Michigan has awarded 71 grants, out of 225 requests, totaling $7.5 million, from $38.3 million requested. The grants are solicited twice a year and tend to be highly competitive due to the limited financial resources and enormous interest.
Grants distributed by the Fund have restored over 70 miles of degraded waterways, restored 100 acres of wetland, improved 25 public parks, revitalized waterfronts and transformed polluted and neglected land for recreation and development, and utilized locally developed technologies that reduce flooding, and polluted runoff from entering local waterways.
Furthermore, the Fund for Lake Michigan is responsible for creating 480 family supporting jobs, providing employees over $13 million in labor income; increasing property values in Southeastern Wisconsin by over $45.5 million; leveraged an additional $12 million in additional federal funds; and stimulated an additional $35 million of economic output in local economies.
As noted in the report, Fund for Lake Michigan is poised to continue to see the same amount of economic impact for years to come as they continue to make investments in improving the Lake Michigan watershed. If you would like to read the full report CLICK HERE. For additional press coverage, CLICK HERE.