Cost-effective water quality improvements based on WERF science

WERF research figured prominently in the decision-making process that led to the formation of EPA Water Quality Trading Policy that was released Monday.

Alexandria, Va., Jan. 16, 2003 -- Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) research figured prominently in the decision-making process that led to the formation of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Water Quality Trading Policy that was released Monday. Watershed-based trading provides opportunities to achieve water quality improvements at reduced costs.

WERF sponsored five watershed-based demonstration projects spanning the various forms of trading approaches. These projects provided real-life experience in developing markets for trade, analyzing benefits of trading and understanding the regulatory implications. For example, one project has demonstrated cost savings over conventional wastewater treatment processes of between $9 million and $12 million annually in Maryland.

"The implication of the potential savings of watershed-based trading in meeting water quality objectives nationally could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars each year," according to Glenn Reinhardt, Executive Director.

The U.S. EPA policy addresses trading-related issues such as permitting requirements, antibacksliding provisions, development of water quality standards, federal National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Program permit regulations, and the development of total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) and water quality management plans.

This policy describes various requirements of the Clean Water Act of 1972 and provides guidance to state and tribal jurisdictions for implementing regulations relevant to water quality trading for nutrients, sediments and other pollutants.

"WERF took the lead on watershed trading in the mid-1990s when we began working on the issues and started a research program," said Reinhardt. "WERF is very pleased to see that our research was incorporated into the work of U.S. EPA in developing policy based on sound science."

The WERF-sponsored research on which U.S. EPA relied for technical information included five EPA-funded trading demonstration projects across the United States. The following reports on the projects are available:

* Nitrogen Credit Trading in Maryland: A Market Analysis for Establishing a Statewide Framework (stock # 97IRM5E)

* Nitrogen Credit Trading in the Long Island Sound Watershed (stock # D00300)

* Phosphorus Credit Trading in the Cherry Creek Basin: An Innovative Approach (stock # D003100)

* Phosphorus Credit Trading in the Fox-Wolf Basin: Exploring Legal, Economic, and Technical Issues (stock # D00312)

* Phosphorus Credit Trading in the Kalamazoo River Basin: Forging Nontraditional Partnerships (stock # D00311)

In addition, WERF is developing useful trading implementation tools (Common Currency for TMDL Commodities: Trading Infrastructure; project #02-WSM-1) and plans to publish Watershed-Based Trading: A Guide for the Wastewater Community, a compilation and analysis of trading issues based on the five demonstration projects and other lessons learned.

WERF subscribers are entitled to one complimentary copy of all products by calling (703) 684-2470. Additional copies are available at $10 each. Reports on CD-ROM are available for $15 each. Or visit our website at and click on the "Product Catalog" link.

Non-subscribers may be able to order WERF publications through WEF ( or IWA Publishing ( For details, visit and click on the "Product Catalog" link.

The full text of the policy is available at The American Water Works Association Research Foundation also provided funding for the watershed-based trading projects. More information is available from the Water Environment Federation and the Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies (AMSA).

The Water Environment Research Foundation, a 501©(3) not-for-profit organization affiliated with the Water Environment Federation, addresses water quality issues with a commitment to environmental protection, economic conservancy, and enhanced quality of life. WERF subscribers consist of wastewater utilities representing more than 70% of the U.S. sewered population and corporations sharing concerns for water quality issues.

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