EPA Promotes Water Quality Markets to Accelerate Cleanup of Nonpoint Source Pollution

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On February 4th at a public event in Dearing, Georgia, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Assistant Administrator for Water David Ross announced a new policy memorandum (updating EPA’s 2003 policy) that will help states, tribes and stakeholders use market-, incentive- and community-based programs to reduce excess nutrients and improve water quality in their communities.

The Office of Water has long expressed support for water quality trading and other market-based programs to maximize pollutant reduction efforts, and the announcement of this Policy is the result of increased Agency collaboration with stakeholders across the country that are looking for innovative ways to deal with the most vexing remaining water quality problems.

According to EPA, the new OW trading memo identifies six Market Based Principles that are designed to encourage creativity and innovation in the development and implementation of programs that reduce pollutants in our Nation’s waters:

  • States, tribes and stakeholders should consider implementing water quality trading and other market-based programs on a watershed scale.
  • EPA encourages the use of adaptive strategies for implementing market-based programs.
  • Water quality credits and offsets may be banked for future use.
  • EPA encourages simplicity and flexibility in implementing baseline concepts.
  • A single project may generate credits for multiple markets.
  • Financing opportunities exist to assist with deployment of nonpoint land use practices.

You can find AA Ross’s full memorandum describing the new policy here: