Verifying the Benefits of Restoration
Credit Verification for Water Quality Trading Programs
Making sure the outcomes of river restoration are real.
We use proven quantification and accounting methods to confirm and track whether river restoration projects are providing the water quality benefits that trading programs say they will. Learn more about the projects we verify in Oregon below.
Medford Water Quality Trading Program
President Obama highlights the Rogue River project, a collaborative effort between The Freshwater Trust, Medford Regional Wastewater Utility, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, and Willamette Partnership. / Video by The Freshwater Trust
“It worked for business, it worked for farmers, it worked for salmon. Those are the kinds of ideas that we need in this country, ideas that preserve our environment, protect our bottom line, and connect more Americans to the great outdoors.”
– President Obama on the Rogue River project
In 2010, the regional wastewater utility for the City of Medford in southern Oregon had a temperature problem. The clean water it released into the Rogue River was too warm for migrating salmon, which rely on cold water to stay healthy and reproduce.
Medford needed a way cool water so that they stayed in compliance with the Clean Water Act. Traditional solutions, like diverting water into holding ponds or building chillers, can cost $15 million or more.
Willamette Partnership and our partners offered an alternative solution, one that was better for fish and cost less.
With the trading program that we helped build, the City of Medford could pay landowners to plant trees along over 7 miles of the river to shade and cool the water — a cost savings of over $8 million. As an added benefit of these types of green infrastructure solutions, the restoration projects would filter polluted runoff, reduce erosion along the river, sequester greenhouse gases, and create wildlife habitat. Also, to be confident this would sufficiently mitigate the impacts of the warm wastewater, more acres of trees were planted than needed to offset the temperature.
Willamette Partnership adapted its Ecosystem Credit Accounting System to translate the shade into credits the city could buy to meets its Clean Water Act obligations. The Freshwater Trust worked with landowners, nurseries, and other contractors to design and install the restoration projects, and then sell those credits to the wastewater facility.
Today, we continue to verify that the credits created by the restoration projects are doing their job.
Over the next ten years, partners in the Rogue River will restore close to 30 miles of riparian area that will be actively maintained for at least 20 years as the trees mature.
Other Verification Projects
We verify credits created by restoration projects throughout Oregon, including riparian restoration projects in the McKenzie, Lewis and Clark, and John Day River basins and fencing along the Sprague River in the Upper Klamath Lake Watershed.
Get in touch about our credit verification services.