Nutrient credit trading could significantly trim the cost of cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, according to a new study released by the Chesapeake Bay Commission.

Nutrient credit trading is a system that enables one pollution source to meet its pollution reduction goals by purchasing those reductions from another source.

The economic analysis showed that nutrient credit trading could save 20 percent to as much as 80 percent of costs to meet pollution reduction goals called for in the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, the federal “pollution diet” to clean up the Bay. State and local governments must reduce nitrogen and phosphorus pollution from farms, wastewater treatment plants, stormwater systems and other sources to meet these goals by 2025.

The study recommends that governments define trading rules and protocols, provide information and technical assistance, and ensure compliance and enforcement to maximize cost benefits and guarantee trading programs actually deliver pollution reductions.

To date, four Chesapeake Bay watershed states – Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia – have initiated water quality trading programs.

Visit the Chesapeake Bay Commission’s website to learn more about the study and download the full analysis.

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