Water Quality Trading: Is it Realistic for the Mississippi River?

Author(s): Showalter, S.

Although significant progress has been made since passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972, the stated Congressional goal of assuring that all waters are "fishable/swimmable" remains elusive. Traditional "end-of-pipe"pollution-control measures must be supplemented with new policies to diffuse sources of pollution such as stormwater and agricultural runoff. One such innovative policy is water quality trading. In December 2006, the State of Pennsylvania joined ten states that currently have some form of a water quality trading program by approving a state administrative policy to allow point sources to offset pollution discharges by purchasing "credits" from other facilities or farmers. Similarly, in August 2008, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection proposed regulations to establish procedures for water quality trading, and. trading programs also are in development in Minnesota, West Virginia and Maryland. In selecting ten finalists for its "Targeted Watershed Grants" on water quality trading this past December, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is encouraging states along the Mississippi River to consider implementing trading programs to address the hypoxia, or low oxygen levels, in the Gulf of Mexico. Nonetheless, the courts have not reached consensus on whether the Clean Water Act allows point sources to offset discharges into impaired waterbodies, or waters failing to meet state water quality standards. For example, in Friends of Pinto Creek v. EPA, 504 F.3d 1007 (9th Cir. 2007), the Ninth Circuit sided with an environmental group claiming that the EPA’s authorization of upstream remediation to offset a company’s copper discharges into the impaired Pinto Creek violated the Clean Water Act. This presentation will analyze the existing state water quality trading programs in light of the legal and scientific issues that may arise as states in the Mississippi River Basin consider implementing such programs.


Technical Presentations

  • Delta Water Quality
  • Delta Water and Agriculture
  • Wetlands
  • Water Quality
  • Sediments
  • Non-Point
  • Management and Sustainability
  • Wood Treatment
  • Modeling
  • Soil and Water Treatment


Responsible Site Design: Implementing Innovative Stormwater Management Strategies

The primary goal of the workshop is to create a dynamic learning experience that examines the role of stormwater management in the built environment. The workshop will focus on integrating ecologically sound water management approaches into site design. After the workshop, attendees will be familiar with the following concepts and technical issues:

  • Knowledge of the stormwater treatment chain
  • Knowledge of the impact of land use codes on stormwater management
  • Application of a design process that mitigates the effects of stormwater on-site
  • Knowledge of the relationship between land use codes and design for innovative stormwater management


For information contact:
Jessie Schmidt
Box 9680
Mississippi State, MS 39762