Municipal Water

Reducing Nutrients: The Role of Innovative Financing

  August 21, 2019      Chad Praul  

Photo by Chesapeake Bay Program



Excess nutrients in our waterways pose a significant and growing challenge to water quality, affecting both ecosystem health and drinking water. With multiple sources contributing to excess nutrients—including urban development, wastewater, agriculture, and stormwater runoff—tackling this water quality challenge requires efforts by many stakeholders.

To make a significant impact on nutrient levels, the public and private sector are beginning to think outside of the box when it comes to financing nutrient reductions. This summer, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) partnered to create a four-part webinar series on “innovative financing strategies for nutrient reductions”. Each webinar dove into different financing angles, touching on federal and private funding sources, strategies for landscape-scale reductions, and stormwater financing solutions.

In addition to highlighting available financing mechanisms and strategies, the series also gathered case studies from around the country that share best practices and real-world examples.

I was thrilled to provide the lead presentation for the final installment of the webinar series—I discussed a portfolio of financing and partnering strategies that stormwater programs can leverage to reduce nutrients and get a better return on their investments. These strategies include developing nutrient crediting programs, performance-based contracting, leveraging markets and the private sector, among others.

Local governments and private partners across the United States are already employing these strategies, and we have seen their effectiveness in action at our headquarters in Lake Tahoe. Permittees and regulators partnered with Environmental Incentives in 2011 to create the Lake Clarity Crediting Program, a bi-state program that sets pollutant reduction targets for local government and transportation departments. The latest performance report shows that permittees exceeded pollutant reduction goals for 2018 and are on target for future total maximum daily load milestones.

These promising results, as well as progress seen across the country, point to an important shift in how we design and fund programs to improve water quality. To learn more about our take on stormwater funding and partnering strategies for nutrient reductions, access the full webinar from EPA’s Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center.

About the Author

Chad Praul is a founding Partner for Environmental Incentives and leads our water quality work. His career is focused on performance-driven approaches to conservation and wise use of financial resources.

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