EPA Extends Comment Period for Notice on Water Quality Trading

(November 20, 2019) – EPA is extending the comment period for its recent notice on water quality trading, published in the Federal Register in September. EPA will now accept comments until December 18.

NACWA is developing comments on the notice that will generally support the additional flexibility EPA wants to create around the issue of nonpoint source baselines. The September notice seeks comment on allowing nonpoint sources, where total maximum daily load (TMDL) load allocations have been established, to immediately generate credits (and allow point sources to use those credits) for certain pollutant reduction efforts made, provided the actions taken by the nonpoint source were not identified as part of the ‘baseline’ nonpoint source actions laid out in the TMDL load allocation. The notice also discusses the potential use of compliance schedules and variances in the trading context.

EPA held an in-person and online public listening session Oct. 21 on the notice.

The September notice follows an EPA memo from February 2019 that was intended to spur more water quality trading. Current EPA leadership believes the Agency’s 2003 water quality trading policy is too prescriptive and does not offer enough flexibility to be effective and implementable, and issued the February 2019 memo and the September notice in an effort to jumpstart trading and other market-based approaches.

NACWA’s comments will also stress the importance of other water quality cooperative efforts beyond water quality trading.

If members would like to provide input or have questions on the September notice, please contact Emily Remmel, NACWA’s Director of Regulatory Affairs.