Markets for Better Water Quality
Water Quality Trading
River restoration that’s good for fish, good for farmers, and good for business.
With water quality trading, factories and utilities can improve water quality by working with landowners to do conservation work instead of installing expensive water treatment technology. Side effects may include improved air quality, climate change mitigation, and habitat creation for fish and wildlife.
Willamette Partnership is involved in all levels of water quality trading, from the national discourse on best practices to tracking, accounting, and verifying credits. Learn more by browsing our project and state policy tools below.
WHAT IS WATER QUALITY TRADING?
We need new tools to achieve fishable, swimmable rivers, lakes, and streams. We also need to invest in resilient, functioning ecosystems while also supporting public health and economic growth. Water quality trading is one such tool that offers a flexible, more cost-effective and environmentally beneficial approach to reducing pollution in our waterways than more traditional engineered solutions.
As an alternative to installing expensive technology to meet requirements of the federal Clean Water Act, point sources, like wastewater and stormwater facilities, can work with landowners within the watershed to implement conservation and restoration practices that reduce pollutants at a lower cost. That might be planting trees to shade the river or changing tillage and the timing of fertilizer use to keep water cool and clean. Landowners are compensated for their efforts after the water quality benefits are verified. These verified benefits become “credits,” which can be purchased by point sources to meet regulatory requirements.
Water quality trading can create new sources of revenue for farmers, ranchers, land managers, and conservation groups. In addition, trading projects may provide a range of additional environmental benefits, such as air quality improvements, fish and wildlife habitat creation, and climate change mitigation.
- Building a Water Quality Trading Program: Options and Considerations (National Network on Water Quality Trading, 2015)
- In It Together: A How-To Reference for Building Point-Nonpoint Water Quality Trading Programs (Willamette Partnership, 2014)
- Joint Regional Recommendations on Water Quality Trading for the Pacific Northwest (Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Washington Department of Ecology, Willamette Partnership, The Freshwater Trust, 2014)
Video / Electric Power Research Institute
State Policy Tools
The Water Quality Trading Toolkit makes it faster and easier for state agencies and stakeholders to develop robust trading programs that achieve clean water goals. The toolkit consists of fives templates that work in concert with each other: state guidance, watershed framework, state rule, NPDES permit, and program annual report. The templates can be used as a starting point, a checklist of important considerations, or customizable sample language.
The Water Quality Trading Toolkit was designed to go along with the following National Network on Water Quality Trading publication.
Publications and News
Growing out of a workshop hosted by the National Network on Water Quality Trading, the “Handbook for Conservation Districts on Environmental Markets” provides guidance and lessons on ecosystem markets…
A new version of the national Nutrient Tracking Tool is released. The tool helps measure water quality improvements from conservation practices on farms and pastures, like cover cropping, by quantifying…
Drive meaningful investment toward achieving clean water goals with water quality trading. These new videos introduce templates that states can use to design transparent and accountable water quality trading…
This five-page fact sheet summarizes innovations in water quality trading tools and progresses through the joint regional recommendation.
National Infrastructure Week has us thinking about our original infrastructure: nature. Beyond bridges and buildings, here’s why we need to take a long, hard look at the ways nature…
Working With the Market: Economic Instruments to Support Investment in Green Stormwater Infrastructure
A new report summarizes how stormwater managers can spur green stormwater infrastructure while tapping new sources to finance that investment.
Willamette Partnership brought over 50 leaders together in Washington D.C. this month to brainstorm how economic incentives could drive stormwater management more quickly and more effectively. We share five…
A how-to guide for groups seeking to track and account for the conservation and restoration investments within their watershed, or other areas of interest.
In the second part of a series on the value of watersheds, we discuss a growing momentum across the country to value, invest, and manage our sources of water…
Today is Imagine a Day Without Water. In the first of a series, we go one step further, thinking about the importance of where our water comes from and…
Willamette Partnership and the Association of Clean Water Administrators (ACWA) are proud to announce the release of five water quality trading policy templates.
Willamette Partnership and the Association of Clean Water Administrators release of five water quality trading policy templates designed to make it faster and easier to develop transparent and accountable water quality…
In part 3 of the Water Quality Trading series, we explain what verification means and present a draft audit standard for the verification process that could save developers time…
We developed a concept draft for a water quality trading program audit that can help balance rigor and cost for environmental credit verification.
Setting the table for a productive discussion about water quality trading is a struggle. But it’s also a strength.
The first of a series of blog posts giving you a crash course in “water quality trading.”
This week, the Value of Water Coalition asks us to Imagine a Day Without Water, which is no simple task. When you think about the Northwest, the first…
A publication on how to build a water quality trading program with examples, options, and considerations to help design a program that meets local needs.
A new online guide to water quality trading can help farms, utilities and other businesses cut pollution and restore U.S. waters to their swimmable, fishable best.
Have a conversation with us on the new reference for water quality trading program design.
Learn about the National Network on Water Quality Trading in this summary, including its purpose, what does it do, who is involved, and how it is funded.
Two new reports on environmental markets and water quality trading.
This report provides information on how a total maximum daily load (TMDL) can be developed to better support water quality trading.
Idaho, Oregon, and Washington with support from EPA Region 10 have agreed to test a new set of joint recommendations for water quality trading in the Pacific Northwest.
Joint regional recommendations to help increase confidence that water trading quality produces its intended benefits and complies with the Clean Water Act.
This is the joint statement document for the regional recommendations for the Pacific Northwest on water quality trading.
Directions on how to quantify thermal benefits of riparian shade using Shade-a-lator version 8.0 and higher for ecosystem credit accounting.
These protocols focus on three stream characteristics and assess the effectiveness of water transactions using data collected through a monitoring program.
User guide for the Water Temperature Transaction Tool, an easy, interactive model for quickly evaluating stream temperatures under a variety of scenarios.
“In It Together” is a 3 part reference on how to build water quality trading programs for point and nonpoint sources with existing case studies.
User guide for the Nutrient Tracking Tool, a model developed to calculate nutrient and sediment loss reductions resulting from conservation practices.
Procedures for using the water quality temperature calculator, Shade-a-lator version 6.2, an approved metric for calculating credits.
Get in touch with your questions about our work on water quality trading.