The Ohio River flows from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Cairo, Illinois, and empties into the Mississippi River. Thousands of wastewater utilities, 46 power plants, and more than 230,000 farmers reside in an eight-state area within the Ohio River Basin.
All of these sources can emit pollution that winds up in the Gulf of Mexico, where it causes dead zones or hypoxia.
The costs to reduce emissions from the different sources vary. Water quality trading provides an option for businesses with high costs to pay those with lower costs to keep nutrients out of the water.
American Farmland Trust is part of an innovative, award-winning project reducing pollution and improving the health of the Ohio River. Since 2009, the Electric Power Research Institute and AFT, along with a strong collaboration of power companies, farmers, state and federal agencies, and environmental interests, have been developing an interstate water quality trading program in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.
The program connects buyers of nutrient credits (power plants, wastewater utilities and corporations) with sellers (farmers) to benefit the environment.