The Pacific Northwest on Water Quality Trading








Joint Regional Recommendations on Water Quality Trading


We worked with Oregon, Washington, and Idaho to release recommendations for improving water quality across the region.

Download the five-page summary of the process and outcomes of the joint regional recommendations.

Water quality trading graphic Willamette Partnership

Water quality trading provides “point sources” like factories the choice of working with landowners, like farmers and conservation groups, to generate equal or greater pollutant reductions in a water body instead of installing expensive onsite technology. / Willamette Partnership

In 2013, a growing interest in water quality trading in the Pacific Northwest, as well as a variety of ways to trade, sparked a need for consistency, transparency, and credibility in such programs across the region.


Willamette Partnership led a team of partners to identify common principles and practices to guide water quality trading in the Northwest. The group consisted of water quality agency staff from Oregon, Washington, Idaho, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 10, Willamette Partnership, and The Freshwater Trust. Together, we compared and contrasted approaches across the region and created a set of shared recommendations for how to use trading programs to further clean water goals.



The Regional Recommendations were released in 2014 and each state worked with local stakeholders and their own policy processes to test out some of the ideas.

These policy innovations have made it easier for regulators, permittees, and landowners to build programs that invest compliance dollars in conservation that gets results, saves money for ratepayers, supports local economies, and provides multiple additional benefits to soil, air, and wildlife.

Establishing a credible water quality trading program is not simple and trading may not be appropriate for many water quality problems. However, when designed well and combined with other tools, we believe that trading programs can help achieve water quality goals in a way that is accountable, based on sound science, consistent with the Clean Water Act, and beneficial to the environment and local landowners.



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Regional Recommendations (executive summary)

regional recommendations on pnw water quality trading cover

Regional Recommendations (full document)

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Joint statement document from states

U.S. EPA letter of support

Get in touch about our recommendations for water quality trading in the Pacific Northwest.


Kristiana Teige Witherill staff photo


Have questions about the Joint Regional Recommendations on Water Quality Trading?

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

Learn more about Willamette Partnership’s national work advancing water quality trading.