NW agencies devise 'water quality trading' plan

Market-based approach lets cos. trade credits

PORTLAND, Ore. - Water quality agency staff from Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, U.S. EPA Region 10, Willamette Partnership and The Freshwater Trust released draft recommendations on approaches to water quality trading in the Pacific Northwest.

The recommendations are based on the group's evaluation of policies, practices, and programs across the country.

The evaluation identified common principles and practices that should be used to develop a consistent approach to water quality trading in the region and focused specifically around trading between non-point and point sources.

Willamette Partnership and The Freshwater Trust facilitated the group through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Conservation Innovation Grants program.

Water quality trading is a market-based approach to achieving water quality goals for pollutants such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and temperature.

Trading allows businesses that reduce pollution beyond minimum requirements to form partnerships through credit trading with other businesses struggling or unable to reach the minimum requirement. The outcome is an overall reduction in pollution. Often the partnership leads to lower costs for both businesses involved.

"Oregon DEQ is a strong supporter of water quality trading and the regional trading workgroup efforts," said DEQ Director Dick Pedersen who spoke at the recent Oregon Association of Clean Water Agencies annual conference in Bend.

"We will continue to look for innovative and holistic opportunities to meet water quality goals. Trading can be a cost-effective tool, where appropriate and with willing partners, to achieve water quality goals."

Beginning this year, Oregon DEQ and participating states have committed to testing their recommendations and are currently working to identify pilot projects.

The states and EPA will then reconvene to discuss their pilot experiences and, if needed, refine the guiding principles and draft recommendations for water quality trading by the fall of 2015.

DEQ staff will to use these recommendations to improve Oregon's water quality trading program and may incorporate revisions to existing internal management directives and rules that guide trading. The public and businesses affected will be asked to provide comments and review DEQ's proposals for all revisions to existing directives and rules.

For more information, visit www.deq.state.or.us/wq/trading/trading.htm

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