Water Quality Trading
On This Page: 

Follow links  to find publications regarding the following Water Quality Trading topics:

 About Water Quality Trading

  • Background Information on water quality trading and wetland mitigation banking by the Environmental Law Institute.
  • Effluent Trading Links: Page maintained by Rich Woodward, Texas A&M
  • Introduction to Water Quality Trading (2004). John Leatherman, Craig Smith, J. Peterson. Kansas State University Report.
  • Future Market-based Environmental Policies: "The next generation of market-based environmental policies" (1996). Robert Stavins, Bradley Whitehead. Resources for the Future Discussion Paper 97-10.
  • Paper on Nutrient Trading As Solution: "Nutrient Trading - A Water Quality Solution?" Presentation Paper by Dr Suzie Greenhalgh and Mindy Selman, World Resources Institute - OECD Workshop on Agriculture and Water: Sustainability, Markets and Policies (Nov. 2005)
  • Mid-Atlantic Water Quality Trading: A Primer on Water Quality Trading in the Mid-Atlantic Region (2006) - Mid-Atlantic Regional Water Program - pdf
  • U.S. Effluent Trading and Offset Projects: Summary  (1999). Environomics for US EPA Office of Water (pdf), page with web links.
  • Tradable Permits Bibliography: Page maintained by Tom Tietenberg, Colby College
  • Water Quality Trading in the United States: Working paper (June 2005) - US EPA, National Center for Environmental Economics. Overview of trading programs in the US.
  • Water Quality Trading Webpage - includes links to major trading documents and websites
    • Water Quality Information Center: National Agricultural Library, USDA

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 Trading Research & Papers



  • Are Markets the Solution to Water Pollution? A Sociological Investigation of Water Quality Trading. (2009). M. Mariola. Dissertation: Ohio State University. Link
  • Development of Implementation Methods of Water Quality Trading Policy: Using Hydrological Simulation Program Fortran (HSPF) (2010) Y.S. Shin. Dissertation: University of Missouri. Link
  • The Five Keys to Constructing Successful Water Quality Trading Schemes (2009). T. Stanton. Ecosystem Marketplace. Link
  • First Worldwide Summary of Water Quality Trading Programs Shows Growing Popularity (2009) Link  
  • Addressing Total Phosphorus Impairments with Water Quality Trading (2006). Christopher Obropta and Gregory Rusciano. Journal of the American Water Resources Association 42(5): 129-1306. Link
  • Contract-based Trading Programs in Environmental Regulations (2004) A.G. Keeler Contemporary Economic Policy 22: 526-533. Link.
  • Cross Cutting Analysis of Trading Programs: Case Studies in Air, Water, and Wetland Mitigation Trading Systems; Learning from Innovations in Environmental Protection, Research Paper Number 6. Robert L. Kerr, Steven J. Anderson, John Jaksch Kerr; Greiner, Anderson & April, and Battelle Pacific Northwest Division (June 2000).
  • Effluent trading to improve water quality: what do we know now? (2005) by Sandra Rousseau, Center for Economic Studies, Leuven, Belgium (PDF)
    • Examining the Effects of Ecological and Political Boundaries on the Potential for Water Quality Trading: Lessons from a Southeastern Trading Framework. (2009). Keiser, David A., Mullen, Jeffrey D., Bergstrom, John C., Smith, Nathan B., Radcliffe, David E., Risse, Mark L., and Fowler, Laurie A. Agricultural and Applied Economics Association: Annual Meeting. July 26-28, 2009: Milwaukee, WI.
    • Potential Markets for Watershed Services (2008 presentation) by  J. Jensen. Western Forestry Leadership Coalition. Prepared by/Adapted from A.H. Todd, NA Watershed Program Leader
    • Removing Muck with Markets: A case study on pollutant trading for cleaner water (2003). Policy brief to Reason Foundation.  Link
    • The Role of Tradable Permits in Water Pollution Control (2003). Joseph Kraemer. Ecologic, Institute for International and European Environmental Policy. Report.
    • Trading on Water (2001) by S. Greeenhalgh and P. Faeth - Forum for Applied Research and Public Policy.
    • Trading Research of Richard T. Woodward (homepage), Department of Agricultural Economics Texas A&M University:
      • "Lessons about Effluent Trading From a Single Trade" (2003).
      • "The Structure and Practice of Water-Quality Trading Markets" (2002).
      • "Market Structures for U.S. Water Quality Trading" (2002).
    • "Watershed-based Pollution Trading development and current trading programs" (2001) by Mc Ginnis, SL. Environmental Engineering and Policy 2 (3): 161-170. Link.
    • Watershed Nutrient Trading under Asymmetric Information. (Oct 2002). Robert Johansson, Agricultural and Resource Economics Review. Link.
    • Will Nutrient Trading Ever Work? An Assessment of Supply and Demand Problems and Institutional Obstacles (2003) by D. King and P. Kuch. Environmental Law Reporter

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     Best Management Practices (BMPs)

    • BMP List for the Lower Boise River Pollution Trading Program (2002).
    • Proposed BMPs to be Applied in the Lower Boise River Effluent Trading Demonstration (2002) by David L. Carter (pdf).

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     Case studies

    Chesapeake Bay
    • Evaluation of Virginia's Nutrient Credit Trading Program (2006). Kurt Stephenson, Stephen Aultman, Leonard Shabman. Paper presented at the American Agricultural Economics Association Annual Meeting (July 23-26, 2006).
    • Effluent Trading for Water Quality Management: Concept and Application to the Chesapeake Bay Watershed (2003). E. Nishizawa, Marine Pollution Bulletin 47: 169-174. Link to Abstract.


    • A Feasibility Analysis of Applying Water Quality Trading in Georgia Watersheds (2005) - Kristin Rowles, Georgia State University. (PDF)
    • A Framework for Trading Phosphorus Credits in the Lake Allatoona Watershed (2003)- River Basin Center report.
    • An Evaluation of Water Quality Trading for Georgia Watersheds: Kristen Rowles, Proceedings of the 2005 Georgia Water Resources Conference, held April 25-27, 2005 at the University of Georgia. (PDF).
    • Water Quality Trading: Addressing two Potential Impediments to Success (2005). Nanette Nelson and Andrew Keeler, Proceedings of the 2005 Georgia Water Resources Conference (PDF).
    • Water Quality Trading: Legal Analysis for Georgia Watersheds (2005): Kristen Rowles and Ben Thompson (PDF).


    Gulf of Mexico 

    • "Awakening the 'Dead Zone': An Investment for Agriculture, Water Quality, and Climate Change" by Suzie Greenhalgh and Amanda Sauer, WRI (2003) - Link (includes presentations on P, N, and CO2 trading, and full text document).
    • Gulf Hypoxia Action Plan 2008 for Reducing, Mitigating and Controlling Hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico and Improving Water Quality in the Mississippi River Basin (2008) by the Mississippi River Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force. Task Force Website.
      • Reassessment 2013: Assessing Progress Made Since 2008. (2013). Mississippi River Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force.
    • Nitrogen sources and gulf hypoxia: potential for environmental credit trading (2005). Marc Ribaudo, Ralph Heimlich, and Mark Peters. Ecological Economics 52: 159-168. Link to article.


    • A New Approach to Water Quality Trading: Applying Lessons from the Acid Rain Program in the Lower Boise River Watershed. (2004). Claire Schary, Karen Fisher-Vanden. Environmental Practice 6(4): 281-295.


    Long Island Sound


    • Point-Nonpoint Source Water Quality Trading: A Case Study in the Minnesota River Basin. (2005). Fang Feng (Andrew), K. William Easter, and Patrick L. Brezonik. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 41(3): 645-658.


    • Pennsylvania's Nutrient Trading Program: Legal Issues and Challenges (Dec 2007) - A white paper prepared by S. Showalter and S. Spigener. 


    • Community-Based Water Quality Trading: the Potential for Columbus, OH (2008 presentation) by Richard Moore, Ohio State University.
    • Effluent Trading: A policy review for Texas (1999) - Center for Public Leadership Studies - Link to report.
    • Lessons Learned from the Trading Pilots: Applications for Wisconsin Water Quality Trading Policy, Resource Strategies, Inc. for Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance (2003).
    • "Point/nonpoint nutrient trading in the Susquehanna River Basin" (2002) - Richard Horan, James Shortle, David Abler. Water Resources Research 38 (5): 1050. Link to abstract.
    • Sharing the Load: Effluent Trading for Indirect Dischargers (1998). US EPA, New Jersey DEP. Link.
    • "Trading Pollution for Water Quality: Assessing the effects of market-based instruments in three basins" (2007) by K.H. Wallace. Master's thesis.
    • "Water Quality Trading in the Lower Delaware River Basin: A Resource for Practitioners": a Report to the William Penn Foundation by the Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Pennsylvania (March 2006).
    • Water Quality Trading Suitability Analysis - Spokane River Watershed Final Report (2005) - Ross & Associates - pdf
    • A water quality trading simulation for Northeast Kansas (2005). J. Peterson, Craig Smith and Luc Valentin. Paper presented at the American Agricultural Economics Association Annual Meeting (July 24-27, 2005).

    Outside of the United States

    • Bringing Biophysical Models into the Economic Laboratory: An Exerimental Analysis of Sediment Trading in Australia. (2006). J. Tisdell. Contributed paper prepared for presentation at the International Association of Agricultural Economists Conference. August 12-18, 2006: Gold Coast, Australia.
    • Economic Instruments for Managing Water in New Zealand. (Jan 2004) - Final Report for NZ Ministry for the Environment.
    • Evolving Environmental Policies and Asset Values: Nutrient Trading Schemes in the Netherlands. (1998). Tomislav Vukina, Ada Wossink. World Congress of Environmental and Resource Economists. Abstract.
    • Market-Based Tools for Environmental Management. (Oct 2004) - Proceedings of the 6th Annual AARES National Symposium, 2003. Australian Government Initiative.
    • "South Nation Conservation Authority: What has 57 years of Watershed Management and Multi-Million Dollar Watershed Plans taught us?" Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan www.asabe.org, Paper number  042175,  2004 ASAE Annual Meeting. Abstract.
    • Tradable discharge permits system for water pollution in the upper Nanpan River, China (2003). Wendong Tao, Weimin Yang, and Bo Zhou. Research Report.
    • Water and Agriculture: Sustainability, Markets, and Policies: Conclusions and Recommendations. (2006). Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD/OCDE).

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     Credit Quantification/Ratios
    • "Differences in Social and Public Risk Perceptions and Conflicting Impacts on Point/Nonpoint Trading Ratios" (2001). Richard Horan, American Journal of Agricultural Economics 83 (4) - Link to abstract.
    • "Point/non-point source source trading of pollution abatement: choosing the right trading ratio" Arun S. Malik, David Letson, Stephen R. Crutchfield (1993). American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Vol. 75 (4): 959-967.

    • "When two wrongs make a right:second-best point/nonpoint trading ratios" (2005). Richard Horan, American Journal of Agricultural Economics 87 (2):340 - Link to abstract

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      Economic Analysis

    • An optimal control approach to water quality trading: cost-effective point/nonpoint management in a watershed framework. (2004). Xiaobing Zhao, Jerald Fletcher. Paper presented at the American Agricultural Economics Association Annual Meeting (Aug 1-4, 2004).
    • Analysis of Phosphorus Control Costs and Effectiveness for Point and Nonpoint Sources in the Fox-Wolf Basin. Resource Strategies, Inc. (July 1999). (PDF).
    • Fertile Ground: Nutrient Trading's potential to cost-effectively improve water quality (2000) - Paul Faeth, World Resources Institute.
    • "Open Markets" v. "Structured Bilateral Trades": Results of Economic Modeling of Point-to-Point Source Water Quality Trading in the Non-Tidal Passaic River Basin. (2009). T. Zhao, Y. Sado, R.N. Boisvert, and G.L. Poe. Department of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University.
    • Paying for Environmental Performance: Using reverse auctions to allocate funding for conservation - WRI Policy Note no 3 (Jan. 2007). (PDF).
    • Setting Permit Prices in a Transferable Discharge Permit (TDP) System for Water Quality Management. (2005). Paper by D. Collentine for the 99th Seminar of the European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    • Transaction costs and trading behavior in an immature water market (2002). Janis Carey, David Sunding, and David Zilberman. Environment and Development Economics 7:733-750. Link to abstract.

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      Non-point Sources/Agriculture

    • Can Water Quality Trading help to address agricultural sources of pollution in Canada? Policy Research Initiative Final Report (May 2006). Bernard Cantin.
    • The Coordination and Design of Point/Nonpoint trading programs and agri-environmental policies (2004). Richard Horan, James Shortle and David Abler. Agricultural and Resource Economics Review 33 (1): 61-78. (Article).

    • Reducing Regulatory Uncertainty in Pollutant Trading. (1995). S.J. Taff and N. Senjem. Paper 2 in the 4th Minnesota Padova Conference on Food, Agriculture, and the Environment. Proceedings of a conference sponsored by University of Minnesota Center for International Food and Agricultural Policy.
    • The Future of Agriculture and Water: Market and Policy based strategies for sustainability. What can the developing world learn from North America? (2005). Conference paper by S. Msangi, C. Ringler, and M. Rosegrant. International Food Policy Research Institute. OECD workshop on Agriculture and Water.

    • Incentive-based solutions to agricultural environmental problems: recent developments in theory and practice. (2000). Allen Randall and Michael Taylor, Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics 32 (2):221-234. (View Article).
    • "Including Non-point Sources in a Water Quality Trading Permit Program." (2005). D. Collentine, Water Science and Technology 51 (3-4): 47-53. (Abstract).
    • "Nitrogen Farming: Harvesting a Different Crop." (2002). Donald L. Hey. Restoration Ecology. 10(1). (Abstract).
    • Nonpoint Source and Carbon Sequestration Credit Trading: What can the Two Learn from Each Other? (2003). Kurt Stephenson, Darrell Bosch. Paper presented at the American Agricultural Economics Association Annual Meeting (July 27-30, 2003).
    • "Offset Banking: A way ahead for controlling nonpoint source pollution in urban areas in Georgia". (2002). Mark Morrisson, Georgia State University, Water Policy Paper."
    • "Phosphorus Trade Credits for Non-Point Source Projects" - Presentation by Earles T., Lorenz A., and Koger W. Proceedings from the World Water Congress (2005)
    • Point-nonpoint Effluent Trading in Watersheds: a Review and Critique. Michelle Jarvie and Barry Solomon (1998). Environmental Impact Assessment Review 18 (2):135-157. Link to abstract.
    • "Trust and Communication: Mechanisms for Increasing Farmers’ Participation in Water Quality Trading" (2004).
      Hanna L. Breetza, Karen Fisher-Vandena, Hannah Jacobs, and Claire Schary.  (View Article).
    • "Search for the northwest passage: the assignation of NSP (non-point source pollution) rights in nutrient trading programs." (2002). by D. Collentine, Water Science and Technology 45 (9):227-234. (Abstract)
    • Water Quality and Agriculture. (2007). Choices 22 (2) - includes the article: "Water Quality Credit Trading and Agriculture: Recognizing the Challenges and Policy Issues Ahead" (p.117)

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    • Implementation of the EPA's Water Quality Trading Policy for Storm Water Management and Smart Growth. (2005). Kathleen M. Trauth and Yee-Sook Shin. Journal of Urban Planning and Development 131(4): 258-269.

    • Pollutant Trading to Improve Riparian Habitat. Article in Stormwater (Jan/Feb 2006).

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    • The Current Controversy regarding TMDLs: Contemporary perspectives "TMDLS and Pollutant Trading" (2003). Ann Powers, Vermont Journal of Environmental Law volume 4. Link to article

    • A framework for pollutant trading during the TMDL allocation phase (2004). A. Zaidi et al. American Society of Agricultural Engineers Conference Paper.

    • The Economics of Total Maximum Daily Loads. Keplinger, Keith. 2003. Natural Resources Journal 43(4). Link.

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    • "Applying Lessons Learned from Wetlands Mitigation Banking to Water Quality Trading." (Feb 2005). White Paper prepared for: Office of Policy, Economics, and Innovation, and Office of Water, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. By: Mark Landry, Antje Siems, and Gerald Stedge, Abt Associates Inc. and Leonard Shabman, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. (PDF).

    • Water Quality Trading: What can we learn from 10 years of wetland mitigation banking? (2005). Eric Raffini and Morgan Robertson, National Wetlands Newsletter 27 (4) - Link to abstract.

    • Wetlands and Water Quality Trading: Review of Current Science and Economic Practices with Selected Case Studies - US EPA Report (EPA/600/R-06/155 - July 2007).

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     Issues and Discussions

    • "Including non-point sources in a water quality trading permit program." (2005). D. Collentine. Water Science and Technology 51 (3-4):47-53. Abstract.

    • "Nutrient Trading Advocated to Improve Water Quality." (2002). K. Christen. Environmental Science and Technology 36(3): 53A-54A. Abstract.

    • "Pollutant Trading: Key to Better Water Quality." (2002). K. Christen, Environmental Science and Technology 36(13): 270A-272A.

    • The Potential for Water Quality Trading in Ohio. Article by Brent Sohngen at OSU Extension and AED Economics, Ohio State University, on policy issues and questions on water quality trading.

    • Water Quality Credits at Former Mine Lands: Improving America's Water Resources, Reclaiming Lost Landscapes. United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) Fact Sheet.
    • "Search for the northwest passage: the assignation of NSP (non-point source pollution) rights in nutrient trading programs" (2002) by D. Collentine, Water Science and Technology 45 (9):227-234 Abstract.

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     WRI & WERF Published reports

    World Resources Institute (WRI)

    • "Awakening the 'Dead Zone': An Investment for Agriculture, Water Quality, and Climate Change." (2003). Suzie Greenhaulgh and Amanda Sauer. WRI Issue Brief.

    • Fertile Ground: Nutrient Trading's potential to cost-effectively improve water quality. (2000). Paul Faeth, World Resources Institute. Link.

    • A Guide to Market-Based Approaches to Water Quality. (2006). World Resources Institute. PDF.

    • Nutrient Trading: Improving Water Quality Through Market-Based Incentives. (2004). World Resources Institute.

    • Water Quality Programs: an International Overview. WRI Issue Brief no.1 (March 2009). (PDF)

    Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF)

    The Full-Text Reports can be Ordered from the WERF Website.

    • Phosphorus Credit Trading in the Cherry Creek Basin: An Innovative Approach - Final Report
    • Phosphorus Credit Trading in the Kalamazoo River Basin: Forging Nontraditional Partnerships - Report
    • Phosphorus Credit Trading in the Fox-Wolf Basin: Exploring Legal, Economic, and Technical Issues - Abstract
    • Nitrogen Credit Trading in Maryland: A Market Analysis for Establishing a Statewide Framework - Article Information
    • Nitrogen Credit Trading in the Long Island Sound Watershed
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