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Water and Agriculture

Sustainability, Markets and Policies

image of Water and Agriculture

Agriculture is a major user of water and is responsible for much of its pollution. But the agricultural sector faces increasing competition for scarce water supplies from urban and industrial users and, increasingly, to sustain ecosystems.  This conference proceedings explores how both governments and the private sector can expand the role of markets to allocate water used by all sectors and to get agricultural producers to account for the pollution that their sector generates.

English

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Nutrient Trading

A Water Quality Solution?

The over-enrichment of rivers and estuaries by excessive levels of nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, is a persistent and growing water quality problem around the world. Even though there have been significant improvements in water quality, most of these improvements have resulted from regulating point sources – industrial and municipal wastewater treatment facilities; today the predominant source of nutrients is non-point sources, especially agricultural and urban runoff. Innovative solutions are needed to provide incentives for non-point sources, whose nutrient discharges are difficult to regulate, to reduce their nutrient contributions. One such solution is nutrient trading. Trading involves setting a goal for the total amount of nutrients entering streams and rivers within a watershed and allowing sources, both point and non-point, to trade nutrient reduction credits in order to meet the local and regional water quality goals. Nutrient trading is being explored and implemented as a viable mechanism to reduce nutrient pollution in a number of areas in the U.S. and internationally. To facilitate the establishment of these markets, we have developed an on-line marketplace, NutrientNet, for point and non-point sources to estimate their nutrient loads and achievable reductions, and provide a marketplace for trades to occur and a registry that allows trades to be tracked.

English

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