State Blueprint Now Available for Water Quality Trading

The Association of Clean Water Administrators and Willamette Partnership this month released a toolkit for states who are interested in establishing water quality trading as a way to restore degraded waters.  Water quality trading is a market-based approached that can help to accelerate the restoration of water impaired by various pollutants, including excess nutrients from agricultural runoff.
We at Earth & Water Group have been involved in helping to establish these markets, including advising market participants, from trading’s early inception, and commend ACWA and the Willamette Partnership for developing this important resource for the states.
The following is an article by Amena Saiyid, from BNA, who reported on this encouraging development.
Blueprint Available for State Water Quality Trading
Aug. 26 — A blueprint for states to develop water quality trading programs that can be adapted to suit their regulatory programs and hydrological conditions was released jointly by the Association of Clean Water Administrators and Willamette Partnership.
“The idea was to make it easier for a state that wishes to develop a trading program to get started,” said Julia Anastasio, ACWA executive director, in an Aug. 26 e-mail to Bloomberg BNA.
Water quality trading has been touted as one of the tools to clean up polluted waters by the Environmental Protection Agency, ACWA and other groups involved in the National Network on Water Quality Trading.
In its simplest form, water quality trading involves two parties—a credit buyer and a credit seller. The buyer typically faces a permit obligation to reduce its pollutant loading into the water while the seller is usually in a position to reduce this loading more cost-effectively than the buyer.
The blueprint, or the water quality trading toolkit as ACWA calls it, consists of five templates that are meant to complement each other: state rule, state guidance, watershed trading framework, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, and annual progress report.
According to the document, released Aug. 22, the state rule template walks the state through its purpose, outlines components of each trade, and spells out key terms used in all five templates.
The state guidance template spells out which regulatory policies will be used to guide the trading program, while the watershed trading framework template provides details of trading, including allocation of credits.
The NPDES permit template gives states ideas on how to incorporate trading into their discharge permits, and the annual progress report allows permit holders participating in the trading program to report progress under their permit and on individual credit-generating projects.
The document emphasizes that the template is meant as “a starting point only” and that any language can be tailored to meet the needs of a particular state. “There are instructions, comment boxes, and options throughout the template providing additional information or alternative language for states to consider,” the document said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Amena H. Saiyid in Washington at


To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at
Brent Fewell

Brent Fewell

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