Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ohio Participating in First Interstate Water Quality Trading Program

The first stewardship credits in a new interstate water quality trading program with Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana were purchased today, launching a pilot project that will improve water quality in the Ohio River basin.

In 2012, Ohio partnered with Kentucky, Indiana, industry and agriculture to create the program, the first of its kind in the United States. The Ohio River Basin Water Quality Trading Project, which was developed by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), allows wastewater dischargers to purchase nutrient reduction credits from agriculture producers to achieve water quality improvements. The duration of the credits gives industry time to implement technology and practices to reduce nutrient discharges at an affordable cost to consumers.

Because many watersheds cross state boundaries, EPRI facilitated creating a collaborative water quality trading project among the three states. The Ohio River is an important source of drinking water, commerce and recreation for each of the participating states.

“Water quality trading is important as permit limits tighten and compliance targets continue to become more expensive,” Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler said. “It’s imperative we search for more flexible and cost effective tools to help us achieve our environmental goals and save scarce public resources.”

“This program will build on Ohio’s aggressive efforts to improve water quality across our state,” said Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director James Zehringer. “We have successfully implemented conservation best management practices through the Ohio Clean Lakes Initiative and look forward to achieving similar success with this program.”

At a public meeting today in Cincinnati, Duke Energy, Hoosier Energy and American Electric Power became the first buyers in the program, together purchasing 9,000 credits. More information about the Ohio River Basin Water Quality Trading Project is available online.

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