Water Quality Trading

Scientists obtaining water samples.
"Water quality trading (WQT) under the Clean Water Act is an option for compliance with a water quality based effluent limitation (WQBEL) in a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit...Water quality trading can provide greater flexibility on the timing and level of technology a facility might install, reduce overall compliance costs, and encourage voluntary participation of non-point sources within the watershed. Trading can provide ancillary environmental benefits such as carbon sinks, flood retention, riparian improvement, and habitat." Environmental Protection Agency.

USDA. NAL. Water and Agriculture Information Center.

A guide (2004) to literature on the data and modeling requirements for environmental credit trading; 105 citations from a number of topical indexes.


View the results of a dynamic search from NAL's databases for the most recent article and book citations on Data and Modeling for Environmental Credit Trading.


"The document details an agreement between EPA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, on collaboration efforts to establish viable water quality credit trading markets."

EPA. Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds.

Provides an "analytical framework to assess the conditions and water quality problems in any specific watershed and determine whether water quality trading could be effectively used to meet [the] water quality standards"

EPA. National Center for Environmental Economics.

"This paper provides a systematic overview of water quality trading in the U.S. The primary source of information for this overview is a detailed database, collected and compiled by a team of researchers at Dartmouth College. This paper divides the trading programs discussed in the database into four categories: on-going offset/trading programs, one-time offset agreements, state and regional trading policies, and other projects and recent proposals that involve trading."

North Carolina Department of Water Quality.

Describes a strategy, including nutrient trading, to reduce basin nutients to the Tar-Pamlico estuary in North Carolina.

Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection.

Gives an overview of Connecticut's efforts to implement its nitrogen credit exchange strategy. Includes TMDL materials on baselines, permitting, etc. and annual credit exchange reports.

Water Quality Trading Guidance  ( pdf | 1.41 MB )

Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.

"This document provides updated guidance for implementing water quality trading within Idaho. Water quality trading is a highly evaluated and regulated environment designed to realize specific and measureable water quality improvements in areas of a watershed that might not normally see improvements. Trading takes work, money, and commitment to achieve real goals. This guidance is designed to provide an understanding of the details involved in water quality trading."

National Association of Conservation Districts.

"Offers insights on market-based engagement opportunities for conservation districts, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) field staff and other interested conservation practitioners..Market-based strategies for water quality offer great potential to help improve water quality in both urban and rural settings."