Evaluating Point-Nonpoint Source Water Quality Trading in a Raritan River Basin Sub-Watershed

EPA Grant Number: SU833186
Title: Evaluating Point-Nonpoint Source Water Quality Trading in a Raritan River Basin Sub-Watershed
Investigators: Obropta, Christopher , Luxhøj, James T
Current Investigators: Obropta, Christopher , Luxhøj, James T , Caluseriu, Alexandra , Johnson, Clair , Rusciano, Gregory , Thompson, Jillian , Lam, Kenny , Wen, Qi
Institution: Rutgers University - New Brunswick
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: I
Project Period: September 1, 2006 through April 1, 2007
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2006) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Water , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


This project addresses water quality issues in the Raritan River Basin of New Jersey. It will build upon an existing study that determined the technical feasibility of implementing a point-nonpoint source water quality trading program in the Basin. Water quality trading is increasingly being promoted as a tool to address total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) in impaired waterways. TMDLs typically lead to new lower effluent caps on wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). Considering there have been a limited number of real trades in the United States to date, it is clear that trading is not appropriate for all watersheds. Thus, effectively predicting the success of a trading market in a given watershed is of primary concern. This project will test the theory that, if designed appropriately on a sub-watershed basis, water quality trading markets can provide a cheaper alternative to costly treatment plant upgrades while addressing nonpoint sources of pollution from stormwater runoff and achieving water quality standard limits. In other words, several small sustainable trading markets within a large watershed can lead to greater success overall compared with implementing one larger-scale trading market. This will be accomplished by evaluating the success of a hypothetical trading market for total phosphorus within a sub-watershed in the Raritan Basin. Engineering and landscape designs for stormwater best management practices (BMPs) will be created to address nonpoint source loads in the sub-watershed. Construction costs and potential pollutant load reductions will be determined. An economic analysis will be conducted to compare the costs associated with making treatment plant upgrades versus implementing upstream stormwater BMPs. The findings of the project will help determine whether the methods used can be replicated for other sub-watersheds within the Raritan River Basin and/or other watersheds throughout the nation. Phase II will seek funding for actual implementation of the trading market and construction of one or more BMPs designed in Phase I. The tasks will be accomplished as part of two undergraduate courses in the Bioresource Engineering and Industrial Engineering programs of study.

Supplemental Keywords:

nonpoint source pollution, nutrients, point source pollution, rivers/streams, surface water, water quality, water quality trading, TMDL, environmental economics, BMPs,, RFA, TREATMENT/CONTROL, Sustainable Industry/Business, Sustainable Environment, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Water Pollution Control, wastewater treatment, sustainable development, environmental sustainability, effluent, environmental regulations, pollution prevention

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report