Water Quality Trading: EPA / USDA Programs
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US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA):

US Department of Agriculture (USDA):

USDA & US EPA Water Quality Trading Roadmap Tool: The Roadmap is an online resource that provides information on water quality trading in one searchable database.

US EPA & USDA in Support of Water Quality Trading:

  • Aug 1, 2016: EPA and USDA Pledge Actions to Support America’s Growing Water Quality Trading Markets. Link.
  • Dec 3, 2013: USDA, EPA Partnership Supports Water Quality Trading To Benefit Environment, Economy. Link.
  • May 22, 2013: EPA Says Water Quality Trading Consistent With Clean Water Act. Link. “... A recap of the Senate EPW Hearing on May 22, 2013, on Water Quality Trading and Nutrient Management, including testimony by EPA Deputy Assistant Admin. for Water, Bob Perciasepe.”

 US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)                                                                      

On January 13, 2003, EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman announced the issuance of the final water quality trading policy, stating: "...the most effective and economical way to reduce pollution is to provide incentives to encourage action by those who can achieve reductions easily and cost-effectively." The policy supports the trading of nutrients and sediments within a watershed. Additionally, the US EPA is provided $800,000 to support 11 projects around the country.

Regulations & Documents:

1. EPA Water Quality Trading Webpage

  • Significant Guidance Documents – Water. Link.
  • Water Quality  Trading Toolkit for Permit Writers (2009)
  • EPA Water Quality Trading Evaluation: Final Report (2008)
  • Wetlands and Water Quality Trading: Review of Current Science and Economic Practices with Selected Case Studies
  • TMDL Implementation: Characteristics of Successful Projects (2006) Final Report
  • U.S. EPA Water Quality Trading Assessment Handbook (2004) 
  • U.S. EPA Final Water Quality Trading Policy (2003) 
  • Summary of U.S. Effluent Trading and Offset Projects (1999). Environomics for US EPA Office of Water.
  • Results of Water-Based Trading Simulation (1999). Chuck Marshall for Office of Science and Technology.
  • Frequently Asked Questions About Water Quality Trading (Webpage)
  • State Development of Numeric Criteria for Nitrogen and Phosphorus Pollution Webpage
    • State Adoption of Numeric Nutrient Standards (1998 - 2008) PDF

2. EPA Watershed-based NPDES Permitting Webpage

3. Other EPA Publications:

  • Achieving Water Quality through Integrated Municipal Storm/Wastewater Plans: 2011 EPA Memorandum
  • Compensatory Mitigation (Clean Water Act Section 404): Webpage

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 Targeted Watershed Grant (TWG) Program

TWG Program Home Page

  • 2009 Targeted Watershed Grants
    • Federal funding was awarded to CTIC to study the feasibility of a water quality credit trading program in the Wabash River basin.
  • 2008 Targeted Watershed Grants 
    • The 2008 TWG focused on water quality trading or other market-based water quality projects in the Ohio River Basin, and the Upper and Lower Mississippi Rivers. They awarded ten finalists $3.7 million.
    • 2008 TWG Webpage
  • 2006/2007 Targeted Watershed Grants
    • Fifteen finalists were selected for a total $12.4 million in implementation grants. Two grants were awarded for market/trading projects: Clear Creek (CO), and Saluda-Reedy Rivers (SC)
    • 2006/2007 TWG Webpage
  • 2005 Targeted Watershed Grants
    • Twelve targeted watersheds were awarded over $9 million in total for 2005. Four of the targeted watersheds featured market-based and/or trading programs. They consisted of: Vermillion River (MN), Tuttle Creek Lane (NE, KS), Willamette River (OR), and Skagit River (WA).
    • 2005 TWG Webpage
    • TWG 2005 Annual Report
  • 2004 Targeted Watershed Grants
    • On July 19, 2004 the USEPA announced its Targeted Watersheds under the 2004 program. Trading was featured in five of the fourteen targeted watersheds. These watersheds include the Lake Tahoe (CA/NV), Bear River (ID, UT, WY), Kalamazoo River (MI), Cape Fear (NC) and Passaic River (NJ). 
    • Read a summary of each trading project.
    • Link to 2004 TWG Webpage

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US Department of Agriculture (USDA)                                                                                     

USDA Web Resources for Environmental Markets:

June 2015:
Building a Water Quality Trading Program:
Options and Considerations, Version 1.0: Point-Nonpoint Trades.
A Product of the National Network on Water Quality Trading, with USDA as a technical advisor.

Conservation Innovation Grants

USDA NRCS Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) Home Page

CIG Winners:

  • 2010: Water quality trading projects include:
    • "Building an online multistate water quality trading platform and carbon estimation tool for the Chesapeake Bay watershed" (World Resource Institute)
    • "To utilize an on farm nutrient assessment and BMP credit calculation tool developed to facilitate ecosystem market trading for inventorying farmers voluntary conservation practices" (Maryland Department of Agriculture)
  • 2009: Water quality trading projects include:
    • "Implementing Point to Non-Point Source Nutrient trading in the Chesapeake Bay" (Maryland Department of Agriculture, MD)
    • "Coupling Market Infrastructure with Ecosystem Services Markets: Initial Framework Scoping for an Ohio River Credit Trading Program" (Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. CA)
    • "Best Management Practices for Water Quality on Private Timber Sales" (Missouri Department of Conservation, MO)
    • "Missouri Innovative Environmental Stewardship Project will demonstrate best management practices for nutrient reductions in water runoff and introduce carbon and nutrient trading to Missouri farmers." (Environmental Resources Coalition, MO) 
  • 2008: Water quality trading projects include:
    • "Development and Application of a Modified NTT Tool for Water Quality Trading" (Tarleton State University, MD)
    • "Starting It Local: Transferable Market Infrastructure for Trading Water Quality Credits & Ecosystem Services in the Upper Mississippi River Basin" (Minnesota River Basin Joint Powers Board)
  • 2007: Water quality trading projects include:
    • "Customized Training on Water Quality Trading for Agriculture and Waste water Facilities" (Conservation Technology Information Center MD, OH, VA)
    • "Piloting Point Source to Non-Point Source Nutrient Trading in the Upper Chesapeake Bay" (Maryland Department of Agriculture)
  • 2006: Water quality trading projects include:
    • "Improving Conservation and Agricultural Economics with Water Quality Credit Trading and the BMP Challenge" (Agflex, Inc.)
    • "Development and Implementation of a Water Quality Bank and Trade Program for the Potomac River Watershed, WV" (West Virginia Research Corp.)
  • 2005: Water quality trading projects include:
    • "Great Miami River Watershed Water Quality Credit Trading Program" (Miami Conservancy District, OH)
  • 2004: Water quality trading projects include:
    • "Designing, Evaluating, and Implementing a Market-based System for Delivery of Conservation Practice Funding" (Pennsylvania Environmental Council)
    • "Innovative Cropping Systems Environmental Credit Program" (Colonial Soil and Water Conservation District, VA)  

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  USDA Farm Bill

USDA Farm Bill Webpage

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 Other USDA Links

Water Quality Trading: Social and Legal Issues - USDA Site Page

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