The National Network on Water Quality Trading

We’re facilitating a national conversation on how to improve consistency, innovation, and integrity in water quality trading.


Over the last five years, Willamette Partnership and the National Network on Water Quality Trading have made it faster, easier, and less expensive to implement water quality trading programs that bring new sources of funding to scale conservation on farms for clean water and co-benefits.

In 2019, Willamette Partnership wrapped up our second term as coordinator of the National Network. We took this as an opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments of the many years of work with our Network partners, improving the consistency, innovation, and integrity of water quality trading. We’re excited to share those accomplishments and insights from our partners in this short retrospective.


The National Network on Water Quality Trading works collaboratively on advancing water quality trading as a strategy to help achieve clean water goals in a watershed near you.



national network water quality trading, fenced cattle, clean water services

Water quality trading is an option for meeting clean water goals through conservation practices, like keeping cattle fenced away from rivers. Photo / Clean Water Services

More than half of the country’s rivers, lakes, and estuaries are not meeting the goals of the Clean Water Act to provide clean drinking water, support recreation, or fish and wildlife habitat.

Significant progress has been made through regulation of factories, power plants, wastewater facilitiesand other such “point” sources, but there’s a lot of improvement to be made in unregulated places, like neighborhoods, forests, and farms.

Water quality trading is a means of reaching clean water goals in which point sources can purchase pollution reductions created by land managers using conservation practices. Despite a strong community of practitioners, however, water quality trading has not been widely adopted.


In 2013, Willamette Partnership and World Resources Institute convened 18 organizations representing farmers, utilities, environmental groups, and regulatory agencies delivering water quality trading programs to form the National Network on Water Quality Trading.

Willamette Partnership continues to coordinate and facilitate the network with funding from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.


The National Network on Water Quality Trading started with 18 organizations in 2013, representing the diversity found in most emerging trading programs in the country, including agriculture, wastewater and stormwater utilities, environmental groups, regulatory agencies, and practitioners delivering water quality trading programs.


national network on water quality trading, steering committee, participants

Original participants of the National Network on Water Quality Trading (2013)

Learn more about the National Network on Water Quality’s work, products, and participants on their website.


Get in touch about the national conversation on water quality trading.


Kristiana Teige Witherill


Have questions about the National Network on Water Quality Trading?

Kristiana Teige Witherill, Partner, Natural Infrastructure
email |
phone | 503.946.1904