Oregon; Market-Based Nutrient Trading for Improving Water Quality

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Oregon; Market-Based Nutrient Trading for Improving Water Quality
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  Market-Based Nutrient Trading for Improving Water Quality(Tools and Approaches) Harbans Lal 1 , Christopher M. Gross 2 and Shaun P. McKinney 3   The runoff generated through the impact of rainwater carries with it the sediments and avariety of nutrients. These pollutants accumulate in waterbodies thus deteriorating thewater quality and making them unfit for their intended uses. It has been recognized thatcontrolling these pollutants at their source of srcin is much more cost effective thancleaning the wastewater / stormwater through sewage treatment plants. Thus sewagetreatment plants would benefit significantly if they are allowed to trade nutrient / waterquality credits with upstream non-point sources to meet their National PollutionDischarge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting requirements.Nutrient trading permits the sources (both point and non-point) that exceed theirenvironmental obligations on different water quality pollutants to earn and trade creditswith others who are not able to meet the requirements. It uses market mechanisms toproduce nutrient reductions both from the point and non-point sources and improving thewater quality of the region. Besides cost benefits, the pollution control practices such asbuffer strips when implemented at non-point sources offer added benefits such ascontrolling multiple pollutants and providing wildlife habitat.Several state and local agencies around the nation are implementing nutrient tradingprograms for different pollutants such as nitrogen, phosphorus, etc. According to Mr.Mike Johanns, the Secretary of Agriculture, the US Department of Agriculture, theMarket-Based Environmental Stewardship is a pretty straight forward idea. It encouragesenvironmental friendly activities like producing cleaner air and water, preservingwetlands and habitat for endangered species, and reducing green house gas emissions.Recognizing the importance of this approach, the Natural Resources ConservationService of the USDA has embarked on developing tools to facilitate its implementation.One of such tools is the Nitrogen Trading Tool (NTT). It provides a user-friendly, web-based interface that producers could use to calculate nitrogen savings from varyingagricultural practices and agronomic management approaches at farm and field level.The streamlined interface will deliver input to a rigorous centralized computer simulationmodel. The model will simulate the effects of the base and alternative managementsystems using historical weather data and site specific soil characteristics. Finally, thetool will deliver a comprehensive report with nitrogen values. If there is a net savings of nitrogen, it may be available to trade or bank in water quality markets. The developmentof water quality trading tools provides the first step to certification and linking buyers andsellers. 1 Environmental Engineer, WNTSC/NRCS/USDA, 1201 NE Lloyd Blvd. Portland, Oregon 97232;(503)-273-2441; e-mail:harbans.lal@por.usda.gov 2 Nutrient Management Specialist, , WNTSC/NRCS/USDA, 5601 Sunnyside Ave. Room 1-2150A,Beltsville, MD 20705-540 3 Team Leader, Water Quality and Quantity Team, WNTSC/NRCS/USDA, 1201 NE Lloyd Blvd.Portland, Oregon 97232     The presentation summarizes the market based initiatives and how they are playing aprominent role in improving water quality both at an individual water body and thewatershed level. It also elaborates on the NTT providing its salient features and how itcould be used for estimating nitrogen delivery to the environment.
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