PILOT ONLINE TRADING PROGRAM FOR PHOSPHORUS IN STORMWATER
CRWA HIRES WEB DEVELOPMENT CONSULTANT
On January 1, CRWA signed a sub-contract with the team of Applied Science Associates and 2Creek Consulting to develop a Pilot Online Trading System (POTS) for stormwater phosphorus in three towns in the upper Charles River watershed. This science-based team brings considerable experience in developing online web-mapping and web-programming systems to the project with skills in both open-source and proprietary mapping software.
Project began March 2009
Working with Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US-EPA) and the upper watershed towns of Franklin and Bellingham, CRWA is developing a pilot online trading system for stormwater runoff - specifically phosphorus - in the Charles River watershed.
Stormwater runoff from commercial, industrial, institutional and high density residential areas is a major contributor of phosphorus to the river. An innovative phosphorus trading system has the potential to greatly improve water quality and quantity while helping owners of large impervious surfaces meet new regulatory requirements.
Recently completed nutrient Total Maximum Daily Load studies (TMDLs) in the watershed require a 65% reduction of phosphorus for these high-intensity types of land uses. The US-EPA is developing a permit system to implement these reductions by targeting sites with contiguous impervious areas of greater than two acres. This online trading system will facilitate compliance with the permits by providing a trading option.
The pilot online trading system is intended to be a flexible and cost-effective alternative to traditional regulatory approaches for mitigating stormwater. The system will enable sites that cannot achieve the required phosphorus reductions to buy credits from sites that have generated a phosphorus reduction surplus by going beyond basic permit requirements. Buyers and sellers will be matched based on phosphorus credits and proximity of sites for trading, while providing transparency to the towns, regulators and the public alike. The online system will be equipped with GIS mapping for display of discharge points and towns/basins boundaries.
Project Goals & Objectives
- Create a market for buying and selling phosphorus reduction credits;
- Encourage favorable sites to go beyond compliance thereby creating credits;
- Encourage unfavorable sites to trade thereby facilitating offsite mitigation;
- Help implement the Charles nutrient TMDLs and US-EPA permits;
- Develop a pilot trading framework that could be implemented watershed-wide.
We are currently working to develop a simple permitting and tracking database for Bellingham and Franklin. This database will provide the framework for the trading system and act as a simple surrogate for the comprehensive US-EPA permitting and tracking database that will eventually be developed.
Once the simple permitting and tracking database is complete, a desktop (offline) version of the pilot phosphorus trading system will be developed for Bellingham and Franklin. The offline system will be easy to develop and used to work out some basic technical issues.
The desktop version of the system will then be converted into a draft online trading system. The trading system will include an online graphical trading center to match potential buyers and sellers, with financial transactions executed offline. The initial system will be tested, modified as needed, and then we will then create a final trading system for Bellingham and Franklin.
Stormwater pollution remains the most significant source of water pollution in urban, suburban, and ex-urban areas in the United States. Phosphorus is the primary nutrient of concern in the Charles River, causing excessive growth of aquatic weeds and algae that impair aquatic life, restrict recreation, and threaten public health (e.g. cyanobacteria blooms).
Stormwater runoff in the Charles contributes about two-thirds of the total annual phosphorus pollution load from human sources. Much of the phosphorus is carried in stormwater from impervious surfaces, such as roads, parking lots, and buildings, especially in commercial, industrial, and high-density residential areas (Horner et al, 1994). Runoff from these types of privately-owned properties is largely unregulated, in contrast to municipal separate storm sewer systems. The pilot online trading system will support the Charles Nutrient TMDLs (including the Lower Charles Final TMDL by EPA and the Upper/Middle Charles Draft TMDL by CRWA; click here to learn more about CRWA's TMDL work) and new US-EPA regulations which attempt to control this runoff.
This project is funded in part by the by the Massachusetts Environmental Trust, the Sarles Foundation, ESRI, MassDEP, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
ESRI and the ESRI Logo are licensed trademarks of Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc.
For more information
Contact Mark Fabian, Watershed Engineer. Click here for contact information.
Horner, R.R., J.J. Skupien, E.H. Livingston, and H.E. Shaver, 1994. Fundamentals of Urban Runoff
Management: Technical and Institutional Issues. Terrene Institute, Washington, District of Columbia
Updated November 2010