Latest News & Information
Below are select news items relating the water quality trading. Access to the NWQTA’s full newsfeed is a members-only benefit. Members click here to access and subscribe to the full NWQTA newsfeed.
2016 White House Water Summit
On Tuesday, March 22, 2016 – World Water Day – the Administration will host a White House Water Summit to raise awareness of the national importance of water, and to highlight new commitments and announcements that the Administration and non-federal institutions are making to build a sustainable water future.
Nearly 200 water experts, representing the full spectrum of interests (e.g. industry, technology developers, utilities, states and tribes, water associations, environmental advocacy, philanthropy), are expected to attend. EPA Deputy Administrator Stan Meiburg will moderate a panel on Innovative Finance and Water Infrastructure Solutions. Joel Beauvais, Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water, will also attend. The event will be held from 9:00 a.m. EDT to approximately 12:30 p.m. EDT and be livestreamed at www.whitehouse.gov/live.
Safe, sufficient, and reliable water resources are essential to the functioning of every aspect and sector of U.S. society, including agricultural and energy production, industry and economic growth, human and environmental health, and national security. As climate change affects our nation’s water supplies, and our population continues to grow and shift, it will become increasingly important to build a sustainable water future. To reduce and mitigate the incidence and impact of water stresses on U.S. communities, it is essential to develop, implement, and deploy the type of sustainable, integrated, and long-term water-management strategies that will be highlighted during the Water Summit.
- 2016 USDA-NRCS Conservation Innovation Grants
The application period is open through May 10, 2016. Click here for information and guidelines for this year's program. Click here for the 2016 CIG Announcement for Program Funding (APF) that outlines the application requirements.
Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) are competitive grants that stimulate the development and adoption of innovative approaches and technologies for conservation on agricultural lands. CIG uses Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funds to award competitive grants to non-Federal governmental or nongovernmental organizations, American Indian Tribes, or individuals. Producers involved in CIG funded projects must be EQIP eligible
Through CIG, NRCS partners with public and private entities to accelerate technology transfer and adopt promising technologies. These new technologies and approaches address some of the Nation's most pressing natural resources concerns. CIG benefits agricultural producers by providing more options for environmental enhancement and compliance with Federal, State, and local regulations.
Multi-State Water Program Hopes To Stand On Its Own Two Feet In 2016
The Ohio River Basin Trading Project is the largest water-quality-trading program in the United States, but it’s still dependent on the generosity of donors for survival. This year, it aims to build its base of paying customers with a multi-pronged strategy that includes videos and impact investors.
Presidential Memorandum: Mitigating Impacts on Natural Resources from Development and Encouraging Related Private Investment
The White House takes a critical step to help encourage private investment in natural resource conservation by signing a Presidential Memorandum to strengthen environment:
“…One way to increase private investment in natural resource restoration is to ensure that Federal policies are clear, work similarly across agencies, and are implemented consistently within agencies. By encouraging agencies to share and adopt a common set of their best practices to mitigate for harmful impacts to natural resources, the Federal Government can create a regulatory environment that allows us to build the economy while protecting healthy ecosystems that benefit this and future generations. Similarly, in non-regulatory circumstances, private investment can play an expanded role in achieving public natural resource restoration goals. For example, performance contracts and other Pay for Success approaches offer innovative ways to finance the procurement of measurable environmental benefits that meet high government standards by paying only for demonstrated outcomes.”
Click here to read the related blog post from the White House.
Head of EPA Water Office to Retire in November
Ken Kopocis, head of the EPA water office, will retire in early November. McCarthy also announced the appointment of Joel Beauvais to replace Kopocis as acting head of the water office. Beauvais is well-known in the water community and has a reputation for being a fixer within the EPA.
Maryland Nutrient Trading Policy Statement Issued
Maryland is developing a nutrient trading policy to accelerate the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay while reducing costs to local governments and citizens and boosting private sector jobs, the Maryland Departments of the Environment and Agriculture announced. The Maryland Nutrient Trading Policy Statement (also attached), released October 23rd, details a roadmap for the development of cross-sector, water quality-based trading programs that use innovation, economies of scale and public-private partnerships to speed improvements to the Bay and local rivers and streams. The path forward includes the development, with input from a stakeholder advisory group, of guidelines that would be issued by April 2016 and used to initiate trades within Maryland at the earliest possible date.
Incorporating natural infrastructure and ecosystem services in federal decision-making
The Administration released a new memorandum directing Federal agencies to factor the value of ecosystem services into Federal planning and decision-making. Our natural world provides critical contributions that support and protect our communities and economy. For instance, Louisiana's coastal wetlands provide billions of dollars worth of flood protection and other benefits. Preserving and restoring forests in the Catskill Mountains enables New York City to access clean water at a cost several times less than the cost of building a new water-filtration plant. And current efforts to plant trees along Oregon's salmon-rich rivers will improve local water quality saving costs associated with installing expensive machinery to achieve the same purpose.
- Obama to overhaul process for offsetting environmental harm (E&E, subscription only)
The White House is preparing a presidential memorandum that seeks to streamline how the government offsets damage to public lands, waters and wildlife, according to several sources.
The memo aims to consolidate separate mitigation policy reform efforts that are already underway at federal agencies and learn from past mistakes, sources said. It would affect everything from energy production on the federal estate to the construction of government buildings.
States Weigh Hurdles For Using Interstate Trading To Implement Bay TMDL
State regulators in the Chesapeake Bay region are weighing the use of water quality trading, including interstate trades, to comply with EPA's landmark multi-state Clean Water Act (CWA) cleanup plan for the bay after it survived an industry legal challenge -- but substantial hurdles remain for states to craft programs that would allow for interstate trades.
USDA announces new resources on heels of National Water Quality Trading Workshop
The Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hosted a joint workshop to expand markets for water quality benefits in Lincoln, Nebraska. USDA and EPA signed a partnership agreement in 2013 to advance water quality trading and other market-based approaches that provide benefits to the environment and economy. The workshop attracted over 200 participants involved in water quality trading from across the nation.
- USDA Awards $20.5 Million to Advance the Next Generation of Natural Resources Conservation
Congratulations to the many NWQTA members who received grants!
U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the award of $20.5 million through its Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program for 45 projects that will develop and advance the conservation of natural resources. This year's projects include efforts to increase habitat for pollinators, develop new ways to attract private investment in natural resource conservation, give agricultural producers greater access to greenhouse gas markets, and help farmers and ranchers make their operations more resilient to climate change. "This year's slate of projects represent the next generation of natural resources conservation, headed by partners who are progressive and forward-thinking in their solutions to natural resource problems," Vilsack said. "Many of them are also engaging with beginning or underserved farmers and ranchers, and carrying their projects into parts of the country where Conservation Innovation Grants have not been utilized in years past." A full list of recipients is available here: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/financial/cig/
- EPA recently issued a final rulemaking revising its regulations governing the development, review, and approval of state water quality standards (“WQS”) (40 CFR Part 131) (effective October 20, 2015). The revisions were prompted by requests from the states for increased clarity in the existing rule as well as the need for greater flexibility and do not represent a significant rewrite of the existing regulations. The NWQTA submitted comments on the proposed rule in January 2014. See members only library for NWQTA summary of the rulemaking.
WEF Releases Advances in Water Quality Trading as a Flexible Compliance Tool
Advances in Water Quality Trading as a Flexible Compliance Tool explores the status of water quality trading and recent changes in the industry and is a guide for implementing and using water quality trading for regulatory compliance purposes. Topics such as current legal and regulatory challenges, in depth case studies, and future applications are discussed in detail. This book offers a look at where and how optimizing investments in water quality through trading are unfolding. Municipalities, industries, agencies, and environmental organizations all benefit from this guidance. 342 pages. The following NWQTA members all contributed to this newly-released publication: EPRI’s Jessica Fox, Kieser and Associates’ Mark Kieser, RES’ TJ Mascia and George Kelly, The Freshwater Trust’s Julia Bond, Joe Furia, Karin Power, David Primozich, Ann Sorensen, Kaola Swanson and Tim Wigington, The Willamette Partnership’s Bobby Cochran, WRI’s Mindy Selman, and Troutman Sanders’ Brent Fewell and Brooks Smith.
Arlington officials to sell wastewater-treatment credits to GMU
Arlington County Board members on July 18 are expected to agree to sell to George Mason University nutrient credits over a six-year period. Because of upgrades, the Arlington Water Pollution Control Plant emits less nitrogen and phosphorous than allowed under its discharge limit, and is able to offer credits to other plants that are over their limit.GMU officials recently contacted the county government to purchase credits; state officials have given preliminary approval to the proposal.
“Similar private agreements may be negotiated in the future,” county staff told County Board members in a memo recommending approval of the proposal.
Arlington officials expect the sale of credits to generate about $3,720 per year, or about $24,500 through 2021, when the agreement will terminate.County officials say that even with the sale, “a comfortable margin” exists should the treatment plant ultimately release a higher amount of nitrogen and phosphorous than expected.The private sale to GMU is separate from the county government’s participation in the Virginia Nutrient Credit Exchange, which allows participating jurisdictions to buy and sell credits among themselves.
- Chesapeake Bay TMDL Decision
This past Monday, July 6th, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued its long-awaited decision in the Chesapeake Bay TMDL case. The Third Circuit sided with EPA and upheld the TMDL. A copy of the decision is attached for your reference. This case did not directly address the legality of EPA’s trading/offset provisions in the TMDL (which was the subject of a separate legal challenge that was dismissed on procedural grounds), but the court’s decision may be read to support the use of trading and offsets to achieve TMDL caps and allocations.
CWA/WOTUS Rule Published, what it can mean for WQT
The U.S. EPA and the Corps of Engineers have finalized a joint rule revising the definition of “Waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act. The definition of waters of the U.S. is central to all provisions of the CWA, including standards, TMDLs, permits, and enforcement. If you have been following the news, you know the proposal has been highly controversial, with critics arguing that the regulation extends beyond the authority of the Constitution and CWA and proponents arguing the rule does not go far enough to protect important aquatic resources. Notwithstanding the controversy there is near universal agreement that a rule is needed to provide greater clarity and certainty on CWA jurisdiction. It remains unclear exactly how the rule will affect state water quality trading programs. And with respect to mitigation banking, the rule is a mixed bag, with a likely plus for stream/wetlands mitigation and offsets but not necessarily for nutrient/temperature banking. The rule will be litigated by both environmental groups and industry and will take years to play out in the courts.
- Water Quality Trading Group Unveils Best Practices Guide To Fill Policy Gap
A coalition of organizations that support water quality trading has released a long-awaited guidance to help states develop such programs, a document that trading advocates hope will fill a gap left by an absence of national trading regulations and which EPA officials say is consistent with the agency's 2003 trading guidance.
The article quotes National Network and NWQTA member Bobby Cochran of the Willamette Partnership and includes praise from Ellen Gilinsky, Senior Advisor in the EPA’s Office of Water, for providing a valuable resource to states interested in developing trading programs. Additionally, the article links to previous EPA coverage of the NWQTA formation. Other NWQTA members participating in the creation of this guidance document include: Association of Clean Water Administrators, American Farmland Trust, Electric Power Resource Institute, The Freshwater Trust, Kieser & Associates, Troutman Sanders, U.S. Water Alliance, National Association of Clean Water Agencies, and World Resources Institute.
- Pennsylvania bill may be test case for water quality trading regimes
Water Policy Report, June 15, 2015
A controversial legislative proposal in Pennsylvania may be a test case for how new, private-sector technologies can work as part of water quality trading regimes, with both proponents and opponents of the measure saying it will favor manure-to-energy companies as a way to help municipalities meet nutrient discharge limits. Because EPA has largely left developing specific water quality trading guidance and policies up to the states and other coalitions of stakeholders, water quality trading advocates and skeptics are looking to the fight over the Pennsylvania bill as a model as they continue to refine best trading practices. Republicans in the Pennsylvania state Senate introduced a measure in April, SB 724, that would authorize the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority to establish a verified water quality trading credit program to help the state meet its nutrient reduction goals under the Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan, known as a total maximum daily load (TMDL), which the state has struggled with in recent years. [Full article via NWQTA Members-Only newsfeed]
- Trading to achieve compliance cost effectively – Water quality trading offers an innovative, market-based means of complying with US Clean Water Act requirements. Charles Logue of Loudon Water, G. Tracy Mehan of the US Water Alliance, David Primozich with The Freshwater Trust, Mark Kieser of Kieser & Associates, LLC, Brent Fewell of Troutman Sanders, and TJ Mascia of Resource Environmental Solutions report on trading history, legal settings, and case studies.
- CARE v. Cow Palace (E.D. Walsh) Settlement Agreement – A settlement agreement was reached in the case of CARE v. Cow Palace (E.D. Wash), where environmental groups brought suit against a farmer under the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act "solid waste" regulations. The court found that the defendant had over-applied manure to agricultural fields resulting in groundwater impacts. The court concluded the defendant was "discarding the manure and thus transforming it to a solid waste under RCRA" and triggering an endangerment finding under RCRA. Although legally binding only in the State of Washington, the case could have implications for manure application elsewhere.
- States, EPA Tout Stormwater Trading But Quick Adoption Appears Unlikely
Water Policy Report, April 6, 2015
DC is exploring expanding its trading boundaries with Maryland in a potential interstate trading platform. State and EPA officials are touting the benefits of a novel stormwater runoff reduction trading program crafted by Washington, D.C., as a model to spur stormwater retention retrofits of already-developed properties, but industry and state sources say more widespread adoption of the policy is far off and that it could face legal challenges. [Full article via NWQTA Members-Only newsfeed]
- City's water-quality plan criticized; Environmental advocates want more to be invested in septic tank removal
- Issue: Pollution in the St. Johns; City may lease water-quality credits
Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville), March 11, 2015
The Jacksonville City Council is considering a plan to meet state-mandated goals to reduce pollution in the St. Johns River by leasing $16 million in water-quality credits from JEA over the next eight years. In 2013, the city made a pledge to the DEP to remove 117,000 pounds of nitrogen from the river by this June and double that amount by 2023. The city has removed some septic tanks and improved its stormwater drainage system as part of its agreement with the state, but the credits make up about 77 percent of its goals.
- Water advocates focus attention on Arkansas legislation
- City's water-quality plan criticized; Environmental advocates want more to be invested in septic tank removal
- Water advocates focus attention on Arkansas legislation
- A [DRAFT] Tennessee Nutrient Reduction Framework (NRF) is now in circulation
- Chesapeake Bay Program’s BMP Panel Updates for Feb. 2015
- ACWA Weekly Wrap Includes Update on NWQTA (Issue 2/2015 of ACWA Weekly Wrap)
- 'Nutrient trading' for watersheds proposed in House bill
- EPRI Wins United States Water Prize for Water Quality Trading Project
- USDA seeks applications for Conservation Innovation Grants (Farm Forum; subscription access only)
- EPA Region III's "Establishing Offset and Trading Baselines for Point and Nonpoint Sources Generating Credits in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed” Presentation and Draft Proposal
- Florida aims to fight water pollution with a water-credit market (Orlando Sentinel; subscription access only)
- EPA Set to Release Planning Tool for State Water Quality Trading Programs
- Nutrient pollution trading in limbo in Maryland as it expands in Virginia
- Federal Agencies Support Virginia's Innovative Market-based Approach to Improving Water Quality in Chesapeake Bay
- EPA Says State, Not Federal, Rules Needed to Encourage Water Trading (Inside Washington Publishers; subscription access only)
- Virginia Set to Propose Certification Process for Generating Non-Point Credits for Trading (Bloomberg; subscription access only)
- USDA, Environmental Protection Agency and Partners: Working Together to Support Water Quality Trading
- District Recognized at International Climate Leadership Awards Stormwater Retention Credit Trading Nominated as One of World's Most Innovative Climate Programs
- Pennvest, Dep Announce Results Of Forward Nutrient Credit Trading Auction Next Auction Planned For Nov. 5.
- Oregon Eyes New Water Trading Policy In Absence Of EPA Updating Guide
- Rare collaboration aims to reduce nutrient pollution in Mississippi River Basin
- Pacific NW agencies and partners announce recommendations for regional water quality trading
- Fox: Trading water quality can curb pollution
- Water Quality Trading Advocates Renew Push For Updated EPA Guidance
- Pa. Trading Program Inches Toward Update
- Wisconsin Poised To Seek EPA Approval On Novel Nutrient 'Fee' Variance
- EAB Backs Idaho Water Permit Without Strict 'Daily' Limits To Meet TMDL