Not Quite Trading Cards

How much do you know about the Clean Water Act? Take the Quiz! By Trey Cody

I don’t know about you, but when I think of trading I think of cards, coins, stamps, and other collectable items. I’m here to tell you about a different kind of trading going on in our Mid-Atlantic Region. It’s called water quality trading. You might ask, “How can you trade the quality of your water?” Water quality trading programs are fairly new, and are being implemented throughout the United States under the Clean Water Act. How Water quality trading works is, within a watershed there are sources of pollution (in many cases treatment plants and industrial manufacturing plants). When one source has a greater pollutant reduction need than another, a trade can be made allowing both sources to achieve the best possible water quality goals set for their specific watershed.

In the Mid Atlantic Region, there are currently 4 established trading programs. These are:

  • The Pennsylvania Trading of Nutrient & Sediment Credits
  • The Maryland Nutrient Trading Program
  • The Virginia Chesapeake Bay Nutrient Credit Exchange
  • The West Virginia Potomac Water Quality Bank and Trade Program
  • These programs are put in place to control the pollutants nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment.

    What are the benefits of trading?

    1. Cost-effective way to reduce pollution without compromising environmental protection
    2. Faster way to achieve pollutant reductions
    3. Use of trading as a tool may enable a watershed to achieve its water quality goals

    So…What do you think are other potential benefits to such a program being created?

    Learn more about EPA’s policy in their first “how-to” manual on designing and implementing water quality trading programs, or Take the Fact or Fiction Quiz.