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Fertile ground

Nutrient trading's potential to cost-effectively improve water quality

Explores the cost-effectiveness and environmental performance of various strategies to reduce phosphorus loads in nutrient-impaired waterways.

Executive Summary

In the United States today, almost 3,400 waterways are impaired by nutrient pollution. The Clean Water Act and other federal and state programs have helped to improve water quality, but much remains to be done to meet national goals. One key sticking point is the cost of regulatory requirements.

Fertile Ground documents case studies in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota undertaken to explore the cost-effectiveness and environmental performance of various strategies to reduce phosphorus loads in nutrient-impaired waterways.

Findings suggest that more flexible approaches to water quality management, including nutrient trading among point and non-point sources as an option, can potentially provide greater improvements in water quality at much lower cost.

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