The groundbreaking, award-winning Ohio River Basin Trading Project, which aims to keep water clean while boosting farmers’ incomes, is the focus of February’s breakfast presentation by the Environmental Professionals Network.
“Electric Utilities, Farmers, Agencies and Others in the Ohio River Basin Establish the World’s Largest Water Quality Trading Program” is from 7:15 to 9:40 a.m. Feb. 23 in the Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center at The Ohio State University, 2201 Fred Taylor Drive, Columbus.
The network is a statewide professional group coordinated by the School of Environment and Natural Resources in Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
The project won the U.S. Water Alliance’s 2015 U.S. Water Prize, which recognizes outstanding sustainable solutions to America’s water challenges.
‘An innovative, market-based approach’
Water quality trading “is an innovative market-based approach to achieving water quality goals for nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen,” according to the project’s website. Farmers participating in the project earn water quality credits by using best management practices to reduce nutrient runoff from their land.
Facilities such as power plants, for example, then can buy the farmers’ credits as an offset to help meet the facilities’ water pollution standards.
The project, which eventually could involve some 230,000 farmers in eight states, “has the potential to move millions of private dollars into the farm economy by paying farmers for reducing nutrient loading,” the website says.
Aimed at reducing nutrient loading
Reducing nutrient loading — specifically, of phosphorus and nitrogen — into water bodies can help reduce or prevent algal blooms and low-oxygen “dead zones.” Both the Ohio River and Lake Erie suffered record-setting algal blooms last summer.
Speaking at the event will be:
- Jessica Fox, senior program manager for the Palo Alto, California-based Electric Power Research Institute, which started and is leading the project.
- Tim Lohner, consulting environmental specialist for Columbus, Ohio-based American Electric Power.
- Brian Brandt, Columbus-based director of the American Farmland Trust’s Agriculture Conservation Innovations program.
- Gary Stuhlfauth, environmental specialist for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s Division of Surface Water.
Register by Feb. 22
Registration for the event is $10, includes a full breakfast, and is open to both members of the network and the public. The deadline to register is Feb. 22. Details and a link to register are at go.osu.edu/Feb2016EPN.
For more information, contact the network’s coordinator, David Hanselmann, who’s a lecturer in the school, at email@example.com or 614-247-1908.
Sponsoring the event is Ohio State’s Office of Energy and Environment.