The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have been working for decades to reduce nutrient losses from agricultural lands and improve water quality. The agencies issued a letter to state and tribal co-regulators Dec. 4 that encourages increased engagement and a reinvigoration of state, tribal and federal efforts to reduce excess nutrients in waterways, with a focus on market-based and other collaborative approaches.
“Thanks to the hard work of states, tribes and stakeholders, the EPA and the USDA have made significant progress reducing excess nutrients in some watersheds. Now is the time to build on that success and leverage the market-based approaches that we know can lead to meaningful results across the country,” said David P. Ross, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Water.
The EPA and the USDA are committed to working with states, tribes and stakeholders to identify watersheds and basins where market-based approaches can supplement traditional regulatory programs to promote meaningful reductions in excess nutrients and improved water quality. This could include providing technical and financial support and participating in problem solving at the local level to explore approaches including water quality credit trading, public-private partnerships, pay-for success, supply chain programs, and more.
“Voluntary conservation works,” said Bill Northey, undersecretary for USDA’s Farm Production and Conservation mission area. “Across the country, farmers are leading the way toward improved water quality by taking steps to decrease sedimentation and nutrient runoff from agricultural lands. But we know more can be done, and continue to look for partners to pursue innovative, market-based, and voluntary approaches that lead to cleaner water and a healthier agricultural sector.”
This renewed effort is part of a larger inter-Agency collaboration to better coordinate and focus federal resources on some of the nation’s most challenging water resource concerns, including addressing excess nutrients in waterways.