Press Release

August 24, 2012
Innovative Approaches to Nutrient Trading Will Bring Tangible Benefits

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Water and Wildlife Subcommittee, announced more than $2.35 million of grants in Conservation Innovation Grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the Chesapeake Bay region.

“For several years, I have advocated for an aggressive nutrient trading program for the Chesapeake Bay region as a way to harness market forces in the restoration effort.  With its announcement of more than $2.35 million in grants specifically for building water quality trading markets in Bay watershed states, USDA is funding several innovative approaches that will turn the promise of nutrient trading into real benefits,” Senator Cardin said.  “Farmers will profit by selling nutrient credits, while homebuilders and municipalities will benefit from having an inexpensive source of nutrient reductions.  Our thanks go to USDA for making this important investment and to the partners that will put these funds to good use to benefit such a national treasure as the Chesapeake Bay.”

According to the USDA, “this is the first time USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has offered a separate request for proposals that specified support for water quality trading markets. Water quality trading is a market-based approach that seeks to find the most cost-effective water quality improvements by bringing together participating buyers and sellers. Point sources buy environmental benefits or ‘credits’ from landowners who install specific conservation practices. In the Chesapeake Bay, five awardees will be facilitating and building infrastructure for water quality trading markets. NRCS will work with the grantees to form a water quality trading network, a forum to share ideas, coordinate program development and evaluate program components.”

Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) is a voluntary program intended to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies while leveraging Federal investments.



Water Quality Credit Trading-Chesapeake Bay Watershed


Chesapeake Bay Foundation

CIG Award: $700,880

Operationalizing Water Quality Trading in the Chesapeake Bay

Summary: The Chesapeake Bay Foundation will work with VA and PA producers to determine trading eligibility and compare policies for determining baseline. Currently, each state approaches baseline differently.


Maryland Department of Agriculture

CIG Award: $500,000

Fostering a sustainable marketplace for agricultural water quality credits and offsets for intra and interstate trading


Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Inc

CIG Award: $437,756

Facilitating forest-based offsets in water quality trading

Borough of Chambersburg

CIG Award: $112,050

Local Utilization of Agricultural Credits Program, specifically credit aggregation data management, inter-basin trading, and baseline compliance.


Commonwealth of Virginia, Department of Conservation & Recreation

CIG Award: $600,000

Building the infrastructure for expanded use of nutrient credits in Virginia, including helping to establish the necessary tools for a registry, such as how credits from agricultural BMPs are treated.