A team of economists has concluded that every federal dollar spent on maintaining the ICW creates an economic return of $26. State spending in North Carolina resulted in even higher returns, $29 for every dollar spent on ICW maintenance. Harry Simmons, mayor of Caswell Beach, North Carolina, presented the economists’ conclusions at recent Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Association conference.
ICW maintenance is also responsible for creating more than 4,000 jobs with an economic output of $257 million in the state of North Carolina alone. The surrounding areas saw nearly double those numbers totaling close to $650 million in economic benefits. However, funding for ICW maintenance is something the government perennially shies away from.
“You might think that our politicians would be desperate to find more funds to spend on ICW maintenance rather than the indifferent attitude most seem to show toward to the waterway, says Claiborne Young, cruising guide author and operator of the online Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net. “I only wish I could find any sort of investment that would yield these sorts of return.”
The survey is a conservative one, only including recreational vessels over 16 feet in length that used the ICW from June 17 to November 19. The time span is significant because it does not include the early season migration of boaters. Military, commercial, fishing and government vessels were not included in the survey, but also heavily rely on the ICW for daily use.
A poll of boaters included in the survey reports 53 percent of cruisers say they would abandon cruising altogether should the ICW cease to be a viable avenue for travel; 41 percent would take their boats elsewhere.