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Water: Water Quality Trading

Water Quality Trading Assessment Handbook

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EPA 841-B-04-001, Nov. 2004

Factsheet: Water Quality Trading Assessment Handbook: Will Trading Help You Achieve a Cleaner Watershed?

Full Document in PDF Format (120 pp, 1.4MB)

Water Quality Trading Assessment Handbook Errata Sheet
You will need this errata sheet if you have a bound copy of the Handbook. If you are downloading a copy of the handbook from this Web site, the corrections on the errata sheet have already been incorporated into the document.


If you would like to order a free copy of the Handbook, please call the National Service Center for Environmental Publications (NSCEP) at 513-489-8190 or 800-490-9198 or send an email to nscep@bps-lmit.com. When you request a copy of the Handbook, please refer to EPA document number: EPA-841-B-04-001.


Can Water Quality Trading Advance Your Watershed’s Goals?

Water quality trading has gained increasing attention as an innovative approach for achieving water quality goals at lower cost. Where it is the appropriate tool, water quality trading (WQT) is a powerful and effective market-based approach to cleaner water. As an innovation unfamiliar to many watershed managers and stakeholders, however, questions about trading often arise such as:

  • What is water quality trading?
  • How does it work?
  • How do you know when and where trading is the right tool?
  • Will water quality trading work in my watershed?

This handbook emphasizes the latter two questions, providing an analytical framework to assess the conditions and water quality problem(s) in any specific watershed and determine whether WQT could be effectively used. The framework is illustrated through the use of example trades in a hypothetical river basin which will familiarize the reader with the requisites and potential benefits of specific trading scenarios. For this reason the handbook is useful reading for anyone who wants to learn more about WQT and the essential functions that a WQT market should deliver.

This website divides the handbook into six chapters and a Glossary/Appendices section, with downloadable PDF files for each. You may view a brief summary of each chapter by clicking on the links below.

  1. Introduction
  2. Pollutant Suitability
  3. Financial Attractiveness
  4. Market Infrastructure
  5. Stakeholder Readiness
  6. Glossary, References and Appendix: Pollutant Suitability Profiles

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