Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station [Water Resources Program]

Water Quality Trading Program

Point to Nonpoint Trading

A nonpoint source discharges pollutants from a diffuse area. Nonpoint source pollution enters a water body as runoff from a wide geographic area. Typical examples include polluted runoff from cities, suburbs, and agricultural fields, and air deposition of contaminants.

Point to nonpoint trading describes when a point source pays for the installation of nonpoint source pollution controls in a watershed, like buffer strips along the river, stormwater controls, other best management practices (BMPs), or wetlands restoration. To account for uncertainties in the effectiveness of nonpoint source controls, trading ratios greater than 2:1 are typically used; so that for every pound of pollutant the point source needs to reduce it must purchase at least 2 pounds of offset.

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