© 2021 WRVO Public Media
Your Source for NPR News
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Researchers investigate link between water pollution and NY property values

Shawn McCready
Property values may be connected to the presence of the Common Loon.

Researchers from Clarkson University are gearing up to study the impacts of water pollution on property values across 26 counties in upstate New York.

Funded by a two year NYSERDA grant, researchers will study water quality data and correlate that with property sales over the past decade. And there’s already evidence of a relationship between the two.

In a recent study, economics professor Martin Heintzelman - who’ll be working on the new study – found that high water acidity lowered property prices in the Adirondacks by up to 24 percent.

The presence of the Common Loon, on the other hand, raised values by around 10 percent.

“Loons are an indicator species," Heintzelman said. "They’re very much affected by environmental conditions, and so if you’ve got loons on the lake it’s also a signal to homeowners that the lake is in relatively good ecological health.”

Heintzelman says the study also aims to balance out industry claims that EPA regulations introduced a year ago to cut emissions have only had a harmful economic impact.

“So when you’re then trying to make the argument that these regulations are in the best public interest it’s helpful to have, to be able to put the benefits of these environmental regulations in dollar terms," Heintzelman said. "So, I mean, property values are a very accessible metric.”

He says a good portion of water pollution upstate can be attributed to coal-fired power plants in the nation’s Midwest.

Heintzelman says if lower levels of pollution lead to higher property values, those statistics could help justify stronger policies on pollutant constraints.