Project Contact

EPRI supports a collaborative process for the development of this project. To this end, we invite feedback, questions, and suggestions on a rolling basis. Please feel free to send us input via e-mail.

For Technical or Stakeholder Questions or to be added to the project contact list: ohiorivertrading@epri.com

For media inquiries:
Chris Mahoney

Nutrition reduction at lower cost

Water quality trading is an innovative market-based approach to achieving water quality goals for nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen through programs that allow permitted emitters to purchase nutrient reductions from another source. Control costs for any one nutrient can differ from one emitter to another, and water quality trading provides an option for meeting discharge requirements in a cost-effective manner.

Since 2007, the Electric Power Research Institute and a strong collaboration of power companies, wastewater utilities, farmers, state and federal agencies and environmental interests have been working to develop a regional interstate water quality trading framework in the Ohio River Basin. As environmental impacts come from many sources, our project is facilitating broad non-traditional collaborations to achieve a common goal of protecting and improving watersheds at lower overall costs. Properly designed and deployed, the proposed trading program in the Ohio River Basin will allow exchanges of water quality credits for nitrogen and phosphorus.

In August 2012, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky siged the trading plan making it now the world’s largest water quality trading program. At full scale, it could span up to eight states and potentially create a market for 46 power plants, thousands of wastewater utilities, and approximately 230,000 farmers. The program has the potential to move millions of private dollars into the farm economy bypaying farmers for reducing nutrient loading. Utilizing solid scientific foundations, this project could result in a multi-industry market that will accelerate cost-effective water quality improvements and provide important ancillary ecological benefits. Following years of establishing strong project foundations, the project team plans to execute a series of pilot trades beginning in 2013 through 2015.

EPRI’s Jessica Fox PDF  (34 KB) leads this effort in collaboration with power companies, federal and state agencies, agricultural organizations, academia, the private sector and other industry organizations.

Project Approach

Impacts on water quality in the Ohio River Basin come from many sources including power plants, wastewater treatment plants, urban stormwater, agriculture, and even from sources outside of the Basin. Due to the many sources of impacts and high nutrient loading in some Basin areas, improving water quality will require collaboration among national and state agencies, power plants, wastewater treatment plants, farmers, environmental groups, and others. In addition, coordinated efforts among state, regional and federal regulatory agencies are critical to address how interstate trading will occur.

Decisions regarding program design, timing, and rules will be made with input from stakeholders (see Advisory Committees page). The design of the program will also need to consider existing state trading rules and policies and existing watershed trading programs.

Pilot Trading

EPRI executed the first of a series of pilot trades between in March of 2014 and anticipates additional trade(s) through 2015 to test the project. The nation's first interstate trading plan was signed by Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky on August 9th, 2012 and amended in October 2013. Download the signed, amended Pilot Trading Plan 1.0 for the Ohio River Basin Water Quality Trading Project, PDF  (5.3 MB), which describes the rules and approach for the pilot period.