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Developing a Value Tent to Support Multi-Credit Trading in the Conestoga Watershed

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A partnership was formed in 2001, consisting of a diverse representation of state agencies, notfor-profits, consulting engineers, planners and economists in the Conestoga Watershed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The goal of the partnership is to design and implement a program in the Conestoga Watershed that will increase incentives for enhancing water quality and ecosystem functional quality using water quality and other environmental credit markets.

The partnership's mission is to: (1) create a credible water quality trading pilot; (2) provide a framework for statewide water quality trading; (3) meet nutrient reduction goals; and (4) encourage restoration and watershed stewardship. To meet this mission, the partnership has established a Steering Committee and three sub-committees: Data Needs, Outreach, and Policy. The first phase of the initiative has focused on trades involving nutrients and sediment. These groups have made much progress to date including initial nitrogen modeling work, involvement of stakeholder groups representing potential traders, and the formation of a draft policy document on trading in Pennsylvania. In addition, several pro-forma and potential trades are under development. Progress and results have been reported periodically in various venues. (See for example Bacon et al., 2002; McNew, 2003; and Zemba, 2002.)

During the second year of the pilot, the partnership secured a grant from US EPA to explore additional objectives relating to a multi-credit trading program, which involves trading pollution reduction credits and ecosystem values across multiple environmental media, using watersheds as a basis of trade. This approach recognizes the ecosystem values of the watershed, i.e., its water, wetlands, habitats, riparian forests, etc., and provides multiple incentives for restoration and improvement of ecosystem functions. In multi-credit trading programs, organizations or individuals can invest in best management practices (BMP), pollution controls, or restoration projects and earn tradable credits to sell or use toward requirements or voluntary commitments associated with water quality, Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs), wetlands, endangered species habitat protection, or carbon sequestration.

This paper describes how a GIS tool was developed to generate a series of maps that quantitatively and visually identified priority areas for multi-credit projects and describes the pro forma project that was developed to illustrate how selected parties could implement a multicredit trading project.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-01-01

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