Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Water Pollution Reduction Credits

The type of non-point source water pollution reduction project described below may be useful in the Saginaw River watershed, the Black River watershed (upstream of Port Huron and the St. Clair River) and smaller tributaries to Lake St. Clair, such as the Clinton River, Thames River and Belle River.

The Great Lakes Commission* has announced plans to implement water quality trading as a means of reducing the phosphorus overload in western Lake Erie. The principals are the states of Ohio, Indiana and Michigan and the Province of Ontario. Agricultural, environmental and business interests are participating, as well.

The plan targets farms, these days the greatest source by far of waterborne phosphorus. The concept is to permit those most successful in reducing phosphorus running off their fields to sell credits to those less successful, creating competition to be sellers of credits, rather than buyers. Presumably, sanctions more costly than the credits will be imposed on the worst polluters.

Planners hope for field trials next year. (This observer’s view: Don’t hold your breath.)

Called the “Erie P Market,” the project depends on being able to measure reductions in nutrient pollution. Trading would be limited to a portion of such reductions. Funding for the project is being provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“The two-year project also aims to develop a common approach for who can trade with whom, and how, where and when trading can occur, as well as examine ways to verify that conservation practices are working to improve water quality.”


* “The Great Lakes Commission is a United States interstate agency established in 1955 through the Great Lakes Compact, in order to ‘promote the orderly, integrated and comprehensive development, use and conservation of the water resources of the Great Lakes Basin,’ which includes the Saint Lawrence River. The commission provides policy development, coordination, and advocacy on issues of regional concern, as well as communication and research services.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Lakes_Commission

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