WASHINGTON, February 17, 2012 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) reminds states and other stakeholders that proposals for water quality credit trading projects are due Friday, March 2. NRCS has up to $10 million in Conservation Innovation Grants for these projects, nationally, with up to $5 million of that funding focused on projects in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Water quality credit trading is a market-based approach to lowering the costs of reducing pollution, and has the potential to engage more farmers and ranchers in water quality improvement efforts through the implementation of more conservation practices on agricultural lands. Producers who implement conservation practices to reduce water quality pollutants can also benefit by generating water quality market credits that could be sold in an open market, which would reduce the costs of implementing and maintaining the conservation practices.
Proposed projects would support the completion of state water quality market rules and infrastructure needed to carry out water quality trading between point and non-point sources; deploy and test tools and metrics needed for crediting and verifying the effectiveness of conservation practices on agricultural lands; establish certification, registry and reporting systems; and educate and reach out to agriculture and other sectors.