Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IMPROVEMENT OF DAIRY FORAGE AND MANURE MANAGEMENT TO REDUCE ENVIRONMENTAL RISK Title: Refining models for quantifying the water quality benefits of improved animal management for use in water quality trading

Authors
item Olander, Lydia -
item Walter, Todd -
item Vadas, Peter
item Heffernam, Jim -
item Kebriab, Ermias -
item Ribaudo, Marc -
item Harter, Thomas -

Submitted to: Government Publication/Report
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: April 7, 2014
Publication Date: April 8, 2014
Citation: Olander, L., Walter, T., Vadas, P.A., Heffernam, J., Kebriab, E., Ribaudo, M., Harter, T. 2014. Refining models for quantifying the water quality benefits of improved animal management for use in water quality trading. Government Publication/Report. NIR 14-03.

Interpretive Summary: Water quality trading (WQT) is a market-based approach where point sources of water pollution can meet their water quality obligations by purchasing pollution credits from other point or nonpoint sources that have reduced their discharges of pollutants. Animal operations are potential nonpoint sources that could be partners in a WQT program because implementing agricultural practices that protect water quality can be less expensive than installing new technology on point sources. To incorporate animal operations into WQT, methods for quantifying pollutant reductions from changes in management practices must be accurate enough for regulators and point source purchasers to have confidence in the results. Water quality trading is already underway in a number of places, typically using computer models or other data to estimate water quality benefits of management. This report gives an overview of existing measurement methods and models that can be used to estimate the water quality benefits of animal operation management practices in a WQT program. The report gives an academic review of models and methods, and not a practical guide for using them for WQT.

Technical Abstract: Water quality trading (WQT) is a market-based approach that allows point sources of water pollution to meet their water quality obligations by purchasing credits from the reduced discharges from other point or nonpoint sources. Non-permitted animal operations and fields of permitted animal operations are potential nonpoint sources that could be attractive partners in a WQT program because implementing agricultural practices that protect water quality can be less expensive than installing new technology on point sources. To incorporate animal operations into WQT, methods for quantifying pollutant reductions from changes in management practices must be sufficiently accurate or conservative so regulators and point source purchasers have confidence in the results. Water quality trading is already underway in a number of places, typically using computer models or empirical data synthesis to estimate water quality benefits of management. Uncertainties in these methods are usually addressed by adjusting the trading ratio to result in a more conservative estimate of the amount of water quality benefit required to offset water quality impacts. This report provides an overview of existing measurement and modeling methods and tools to inform possible efforts to build updated and more integrated methods for quantifying water quality benefits of animal operation management for use in WQT programs. This is an academic review of models and methods, not a practical guide to how these tools can be adapted for use in water quality trading programs.

Last Modified: 11/25/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page