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Water Quality Trading Cleans Up the Chesapeake

West Virginia will soon be able to adopt a trading program to improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay by addressing significant nutrient loading from non-point sources. Under the Chesapeake Bay Agreement, West Virginia must, by 2010, reduce nutrients entering the Bay from the Potomac watershed by 2.6 million pounds. Water quality trading is one of the most effective and cost-efficient ways to reduce this load.

Current water quality policy only regulates nutrient pollution from large point sources like wastewater treatment plants. But the majority of nutrient pollution in the Chesapeake comes from smaller sources, primarily agriculture.

The West Virginia University's Water Research Institute (WVWRI) announced last week it will begin developing a nutrient trading program for West Virginia. The World Resources Institute will work with WVWRI to set up the trading program based on NutrientNet, a nutrient trading platform.

Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality are also creating water quality trading programs. The PA DEP has already certified several agricultural operations for generating credits.

WRI has been working closely with the PA DEP to develop NutrientNet as the platform for Pennsylvania's trading program. When it goes live, farmers and wastewater treatment plants will be able to calculate, buy and sell credits from operations on NutrientNet's marketplace.

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