National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA)

NACWA seeks to intervene in Chesapeake nutrient trading litigation, defends water quality trading

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Washington, D.C. -- The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) filed a Motion to Intervene on December 4 in a lawsuit seeking to invalidate water quality trading provisions included the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2010 plan to clean up the Chesapeake Bay watershed. NACWA is seeking to intervene as a Defendant in Food and Water Watch, et al. v EPA, filed with the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia on October 3, to help EPA defend water quality trading as a key part of a holistic approach to watershed improvement.

NACWA supports the use of water quality trading as a tool that can potentially generate environmental benefits greater than can be achieved under traditional regulatory approaches and at less cost. In addition, water quality trading is a much-needed tool in the development of a holistic watershed approach that includes nonpoint source agricultural dischargers to address the Bay’s water quality impairment issues.

“With funding shortfalls, aging infrastructure, and increasingly stringent water quality criteria, clean water utilities need innovative approaches like trading to meet Clean Water Act requirements at less cost,” said Ken Kirk, executive director of NACWA. “Trading could allow municipal systems to meet regulatory requirements, while ensuring that local ratepayer dollars are maximized. In short, water quality trading is a win-win for both the environment and for municipal clean water ratepayers.”

NACWA’s intervention papers outline why the Association and its municipal partners should be allowed to participate in the case to represent the perspective of municipal clean water utilities. The papers also explain how water quality trading programs are helping clean water agencies achieve water quality improvement in cost-effective ways. The motion highlights the significant effect this litigation could have on trading programs nationwide.

“The municipal clean water utility community is committed to ensuring that water quality trading is done in an environmentally responsible manner that achieves real water quality improvements and that questionable credits do not enter the market. Unfortunately, the misguided and unsubstantiated attacks launched by the plaintiffs in this lawsuit mischaracterize the important role that trading can play in improving our Nation’s water quality and paint a misleading picture of how water quality trading works,” said Kirk. “Trading programs at work or under development in the Chesapeake Bay and nationwide will provide cost-effective and environmentally responsible water quality improvements. NACWA is committed to defending these innovative programs through participation in this lawsuit,” said Kirk.

This case marks the second time NACWA has sought participation in legal action surrounding the Chesapeake Bay TMDL. NACWA is currently an intervenor in American Farm Bureau, et al. v. EPA to help EPA defend the holistic watershed approach embodied in the final TMDL from attack by nonpoint agricultural dischargers.

NACWA was joined on its intervention request in the trading litigation by a broad collation of municipal and trading interests including the Virginia Association of Municipal Wastewater Agencies (VAMWA), the Maryland Association of Municipal Wastewater Agencies (MAMWA), the North Carolina Water Quality Association, the West Virginia Municipal Water Quality Association, the Virginia Nutrient Credit Exchange Association, and the Wet Weather Partnership.

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.

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