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Ohio River Basin
The Ohio River Basin encompasses portions of 14 states with an area of more than 200,000 square miles, over 5% of the total United States land mass.  


Ohio River Basin Demonstration Project
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Project Listening
Asked Questions
Water Quality
Trading Tutorial

A Regional Water QualityOhio River
Trading Program

Many agriculture producers in the Ohio River Basin already know about the benefits of using conservation practices in their operations.  Some of those advantages include better soil, cleaner water and higher profits.  But what if you could earn even more from implementing those same conservation practices? The Ohio River Basin Water Quality Trading market may make that possible. 

AFT is one of several groups working with the Electric Power Research Institute in the Ohio River Basin to establish a first-of-its kind interstate trading project. Properly designed and deployed, the proposed trading program will allow exchanges of water quality credits for nitrogen and phosphorus aimed at protecting and improving watersheds at lower overall costs. The project area covers portions of at least eight states, including Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia.

What is Agriculture's Role?

Water quality trading is an innovative market-based approach to achieving water quality goals for nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, through programs that allow permitted emitters to purchase nutrient reductions from another source, like agriculture.  It offers a financial incentive for farmers in the Ohio River Basin to implement conservation practices, while at the same time improving water quality and saving money. American Farmland Trust’s role in the project is to ensure that the program is developed in a way that allows for full participation of farmers. Not only will these practices improve the health of the entire river basin, but they will also contribute to the economic viability of farmers by adding a new source of income to their operations – the sale of nutrient reduction credit to utility companies, wastewater treatment plants and other regulated point sources. To learn more about how this works, visit our Water Quality Trading Tutorial.

With the onset of the Ohio River Basin Water Quality Trading market, agricultural producers in New York, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois who operate within the Ohio River Basin watershed may be eligible to participate in trading. 

If you are a farmer in the Ohio River Basin and interested in participating, read Selling a New Commodity from Agriculture: Cleaner Water or e-mail us at tbullock@niu.edu.

Project Timeline

Timeline for EPRI Ohio River Basing Water Quality Trading Project
Graphic Courtesy of EPRI

After numerous meetings with stakeholder groups and listening sessions with farmers and agricultural professionals around the Ohio River Basin (2009-2011), the project collaborators started working with State Agencies in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana to draft the nation’s first interstate trading plan. Now that the Pilot Trading Plan for the Ohio River Basin Interstate Water Quality Trading Project [PDF] was signed (August 2012), EPRI plans to invest in conservation practices on farms in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana between 2012-2014 and sell the resulting credits to interested buyers to test the draft trading plan. American Farmland Trust will be working with the state agencies and Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) in the targeted watersheds to get the practices on the ground and use lessons learned from the pilot trades to refine various elements of the trading plan. The goal is to finalize the framework for a fully functional market in the Ohio River Basin by 2015.

How the Pilot Trades Will Work

Lessons from Listening Sessions

Learn More

To learn more about the project, visit the official project page.  If you would like to receive quarterly updates on the project, please send an email to OhioRiverTrading@epri.com.  

This project, led by Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), is supported by a coalition consisting of American Farmland Trust, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, Kieser & Associates, LLC, Hunton & Williams LLP, University of California at Santa Barbara, and Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO). American Electric Power, Duke Energy, Hoosier Energy and Tennessee Valley Authority are also participating in the development of this project.
American Farmland Trust