Bay Journal

Topics: Pollution

Localities not buying into nutrient trading – for now

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Despite being touted as a less costly approach to curbing stormwater pollution, nutrient trading has yet to catch on among Chesapeake Bay localities. A recent report by the World Resources Institute and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation details the hurdles that are keeping the market-based approach from getting off the ground.

The report’s authors worked alongside officials in Maryland’s Montgomery and Queen Anne’s counties and in Virginia’s Arlington County for almost five years to help them establish a framework for trades. Each will need to reduce stormwater runoff to meet Bay pollution limits, and the two nonprofits had hoped to get the localities to demonstrate how trading could help satisfy some of those requirements at a lower cost.

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About Pollution

Nutrient pollution, the nitrogen and phosphorus that originates from farms, wastewater treatment plants, stormwater runoff and air pollution, is a major source of pollution to the Chesapeake. In the Bay, they spur growth of algae blooms which block sunlight needed by important underwater grass beds. When the algae dies, they are decomposed in a process that depletes the water of oxygen needed by other species.

Sediment eroded from the land and streambanks degrades stream health and reduces water clarity. Toxins and other chemical contaminants also pose a direct threat to fish throughout the Bay and its watershed.

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