Surface water quality management using an integrated discharge permit and the reclaimed water market

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Water quality trading is a sustainable framework for surface water quality management. It uses discharge permits to reduce the total treatment costs. For example, the case of Gharesoo River in Iran shows that the nitrogen permit market between point and non-point sources is 37% more economical than the command and control framework. Nevertheless, the cost saving may be reduced to 6% by the end of the study period (2050). This depression may be due to the limited technical support for wastewater treatment plants. Therefore, an integrated market is recommended in which the discharge permits and the reclaimed water are traded simultaneously. In this framework, the allocation of secondary treated domestic wastewater for irrigation can provide capacity for other pollutants to discharge into the surface water. This innovative approach may decrease the total treatment costs by 63% at present, while 65%, may be achieved by the end of the study period. Furthermore, this market is able to determine the environmental penalty, trading permits, and reuse prices. For example, the maximum ratio of the average reuse price to the penalty cost is determined as 1 to 10. It is introduced as an incentive indicator for stakeholders to consider the integrated market. Consequently, the applicability and the efficiency of using this approach are verified long term.

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