Water-quality credits/dollars to be earned by farmers
“This trading plan is a win-win for utility companies, agriculture and ultimately consumers and the environment,” said AFT President Jon Scholl. “For farmers, water quality trading creates opportunities to work within their communities to implement conservation practices that improve water quality and protect and enhance valuable farmland soils.”
Jessica Fox, senior scientist for EPRI’s Water and Ecosystems Program and the project director, was quoted as saying, “Trading provides point sources with a cost-effective option for meeting nutrient reduction targets and has the added benefits of improving water quality, restoring wildlife habitat, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and top-soil losses, improving soil health on farms and providing financial support for farmers and local counties.”
AFT contends that the program has strong agricultural support and leadership and is being designed to reflect the input of more than 150 Ohio River Basin growers/producers, soil and water conservation district staff and agricultural professionals. Additionally, a 16-member agricultural stakeholder advisory committee is to provide guidance for the project as it proceeds. Various meetings have been ongoing since October 2011.
“Strong participation from the agricultural community is essential to developing a water quality trading market that works for both buyers and sellers,” said Rick McLellan, senior vice president, commercial, with the Mosaic Company and a board member. The Mosaic Company Foundation is a supporter by also providing funds.
Apparently the kick-off for pilot trades are set as it was announced that trades are expected to take place in 16 counties. This should involve 30 farmers implementing agricultural “conservation best management practices” on up to 20,000 acres. The water quality credits from these operations are expected to be purchased by an initial three power plants.
From this planned pilot beginning, nutrient reductions have been calculated to total approximately 45,000 pounds of nitrogen and 15,000 pounds of phosphorus annually.
The organizers’ goal is for success to eventually be an eight-state trading area in the Ohio River Basin with farmers creating enough credits for 46 power plants, thousands of wastewater treatment facilities and other industries purchasing credits from about 230,000 farmers. The states targeted are Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.