January 01, 2017

Water Quality Trading: Setting the Record Straight

Brooks Smith, Shannon Varner, and Patrick Fanning

The United States has made great strides toward improving the quality of our nation’s waters, but much work remains to be done. Although the Clean Water Act (CWA or the Act) has been successful in driving many water quality improvements, meeting the “fishable/swimmable” goals of the Act remains elusive and will require new and innovative tools. Water quality trading (WQT) is one such tool that more efficiently and affordably improves water quality, while also attracting new stakeholders and private capital to supplement the good start made by existing stakeholders such as our federal, state, and local governments and the regulated community. Despite the many benefits and increasing use of this tool, some continue to swim against the tide when it comes to WQT. The Fall 2015 issue of Natural Resources & Environment (NR&E) featured an article by Zach Corrigan of Food and Water Watch (FWW) titled “The Case Against Water Quality Trading.” We take this opportunity to briefly address concerns raised in that article and provide the other side of the coin on WQT.

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