Nutrient Trading Workgroup
The department is exploring potential development of a water quality trading program. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency encourages and advocates this type of program when it is consistent with the goals of the federal Clean Water Act.
A water quality trading program serves as a mechanism for point source dischargers, such as wastewater treatment facilities, to achieve compliance with water quality standards by exchanging credits among themselves and with nonpoint source entities such as agricultural operations. A water quality trading program is most beneficial for communities served by smaller wastewater treatment facilities, which are often economically challenged and have difficulty in meeting water quality-based effluent limits. Larger wastewater treatment facilities and nonpoint source entities often have the capacity to cover for any reductions required of smaller sources by taking extra measures to reduce their pollutant load.
Water quality trading is only effective if all of the parties involved are geographically associated, discharging toward the same water body. It is also only applicable to certain types of pollutants. Toxic chemical discharges cannot be mitigated by water quality trading. Water quality trading is more appropriate for non-toxic pollutants such as nutrients that may not cause immediate impairment at the point of discharge, but may contribute to water quality problems at points downstream, notably in lakes. More globally, water quality trading could ultimately play a part in resolving the hypoxia problem found in the Gulf of Mexico.
A water quality trading program can be administered in several ways. Geosyntec Inc. and the Environmental Resources Coalition produced a report detailing possible arrangements. These entities also ran simulations of potential water quality trading programs in two real Missouri watersheds. These watersheds are the South Fork of the Salt River watershed, which discharges to Mark Twain Lake, and the Spring River watershed in the southwest part of the state.
Water quality trading programs have been successfully implemented in other places. Long Island Sound is the target waterbody for a trading program to control nitrogen discharges in Connecticut and New York. Other programs are currently in development or underway in Ohio, California, and Virginia. EPA provides further details on how water quality trading fits with the goals of the federal Clean Water Act.
Comments/questions on the Missouri Water Quality Trading Framework Version of May 13, 2016 are due to Joe Engeln by June 6.
Upcoming Workgroup Meetings
No meetings scheduled at this time.
Considerations for Missouri Links
Other Relevant Links
Past Workgroup Meetings
Jan. 22, 2016
Nutrient Trading Program Notes
Nonpoint Source Workgroup-Baselines and Eligibility of Practices
MoSWIMS and NTT Capabilities-Kurt Boeckmann
Nutrient Trading Program Banking/Clearinghouse Concept-Joe Boland
Nov. 20, 2015
Missouri Water Quality Trading - Potential Framework