Washington, D.C. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a partnership agreement to support water quality trading and other market-based approaches for ecosystem services. The agreement states that water quality trading may achieve water quality and environmental benefits more cost-effectively and efficiently than might otherwise be achieved through single-entity regulatory approaches. As such, the agencies plan to work collaboratively to improve the credibility, integrity, and transparency of water-quality trading programs across the nation, as well as strengthen the implementation of policies and programs that encourage water-quality trading.
“With funding shortfalls, aging infrastructure, and increasingly stringent water quality criteria, clean water utilities are turning towards innovative approaches like water quality trading to meet Clean Water Act requirements at less cost” said Ken Kirk, NACWA’s Executive Director. “NACWA commends the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for entering into such an important partnership. Their continued support is critical to ensuring that water quality trading remains a viable tool for achieving water quality goals more efficiently, and we look forward to working closely with them on this important issue.”
Water quality trading offers a more holistic approach to watershed management, engaging all sectors and sources of pollution by generating the lowest cost reductions for clean water utilities and others to use towards permit compliance. Presently, there are active water quality trading programs in the Long Island Sound, Pacific Northwest, and Colorado to reduce excess nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous and decrease water temperature. Larger interstate programs in the Ohio River Basin and Chesapeake Bay are currently being developed to address nutrient pollution with an increased emphasis on participation from the agricultural sector.
NACWA represents the interests of more than 300 public agencies and organizations that have made the pursuit of scientifically based, technically sound and cost effective laws and regulations their objective. NACWA members serve the majority of the sewered population in the United States and collectively treat and reclaim more than 18 billion gallons of wastewater daily.