Validation: Brent Fults and CBNLT recognized by Virginia Governor and EPA Administrator as water quality trading pioneers in the bay

Governor McAuliffe introduces Brent Fults at 5:20 

Baltimore Sun-Times

Ecosystem Marketplace

RS is positively thrilled by our Virginia partner Brent Fults’ and the Chesapeake Bay Nutrient Land Trust’s (CBNLT) participation this morning in an unprecedented high-profile event touting water quality markets. Introducing Brent today was the Governor of Virginia Terry McAuliffe [!]. If that were not enough, also speaking were USEPA Administrator Gina McCarthy — and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. In attendance were watershed policy chiefs from the Chesapeake Bay and nationwide.

gov and brentUSDA Sec. Vilsak, Governor McAuliffe and CBNLT’s Brent Fults at the press conference 

gina mccarthy epa water quality trading conf

USEPA Administrator Gina McCarthy gives shout-out to WQ trading 

The road to widely accepted “retail” water quality trading is a long and tortured one. Here is a 2011 RS blog post describing the challenge of realizing and utilizing these long discussed markets and water quality products in Virginia. At the time of the post we were three years into a process which culminated today — four years later — in the full throated public endorsement of water quality credits by the federal government and a regulated state.

Brent Fults, Scott Reed, Casey Jensen, and all the gang at CBNLT, should enjoy today’s validation of their long-standing and very personal struggle to make regulated market-based retail credit sales for water quality off-sets in Virginia a reality.

I have said many times that the cost of the coffee and doughnuts at seminars discussing water quality trading exceeds the dollar volume of the trades. I may need to put that cute line away. These markets are taking off in a big way, because Fult’s and friends walked the walk — when others just talked that talk.

In (the very few) watersheds nationwide where “non-point to non-point” WQ trading is embraced, as today in parts of Virginia and North Carolina, nearly every development over a single lot is regulated by an MS4 stormwater permit and uses some degree of WQ off-sets to achieve no-net-contribution to water quality pollution. This captures most all development (what an industry) and leads to better compliance and more affordable regulatory outcomes for permittees than old, failed approaches.

Only another 2258 river basins to go!

New Department of Agriculture video featuring CBNLT’s work

CLICK BELOW to hear Brent Fult’s statement at the event:

Federal Agencies Support Virginia’s Innovative Market-based Approach to Improving Water Quality in Chesapeake Bay

Virginia program to serve as model for similar programs across the country

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16, 2014 – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy today joined U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary (USDA) Tom Vilsack, Mike Boots of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), Commonwealth of Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, a private investor and an Appomattox, VA farmer to recognize an innovative, market-based nutrient trading program run by Virginia to improve the water quality of Chesapeake Bay.

At the McConnell Safety Transportation Operation Center, in Fairfax, Va., EPA, USDA, and CEQ highlighted the cost-effective program that has saved the Commonwealth more than $1 million, demonstrating an innovative means of meeting Clean Water Act stormwater requirements and Virginia state water quality goals for the Bay. The program encourages economic investment while reducing phosphorus pollution to local waterways in order to meet water quality goals for the Chesapeake Bay. It is expected similar programs will be established around the nation to provide new revenue sources for agricultural producers while reducing soil erosion and runoff.

“Virginia’s nutrient trading program is a strong example of how to create economic opportunity and new income for rural America while protecting and improving local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “The program is a win for the environment and our economy and we encourage states to look at Virginia as a model and a resource as they adopt similar programs.”

“USDA applauds the Commonwealth of Virginia for showing tremendous leadership on this issue,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Efforts like these provide new and additional income streams for farmers and ranchers, while improving water quality and saving Virginia money. I am hopeful this initiative can be replicated across the nation.”‎

“The Chesapeake Bay faces numerous challenges, and the Commonwealth of Virginia is responding with innovative thinking and collaboration across sectors,” said Mike Boots, who leads the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “Not only do creative approaches like these provide new markets for private investors and generate new revenue for farmers, they also bolster the strength of our natural resources, improving their resilience to threats posed by a changing climate and other stressors.”

“I am glad the federal government has chosen to recognize this innovative, pro-business program,” said Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. “Our nutrient credit trading system is building the New Virginia Economy by protecting our environment and controlling costs for the private sector and the Virginia taxpayer.”‎

Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality has created a demand and supply market for land conservation projects that are protective of water quality for future generations. The agency’s stormwater program requires reductions of phosphorus runoff from certain types of road construction projects that can be achieved by purchasing phosphorus credits from state-certified credit banks. Credits purchased are generated by Virginia farmers in the Potomac and James River watersheds, whose farming practices have permanently reduced the amount of phosphorus flowing into those rivers and, ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay. The farm practices are certified by the state as “nutrient credit banks” and come solely from private investors, reducing reliance on public funds and generating a new revenue stream for participating farmers. These credits cost VDOT approximately 50 percent less than other, more traditional engineered pollution reduction practices,

such as detention ponds, and underground filters. In addition, these banks advance other goals such as wildlife habitat, stream buffers and land preservation.‎

USDA video of the Virginia program was highlighted in today’s event: is an external link or third-party site outside of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website.

By advancing the goals of improving the health and regional economy of the Chesapeake Bay as laid out in President Obama’s 2009 Executive Order, nutrient trading is giving farmers additional income opportunities that help keep agricultural lands in production and stretch limited budgets by tapping private sector investments.

EPA and USDA are working together to implement and coordinate policies and programs that encourage water quality trading and will release a web-based water quality trading roadmap tool in early 2015. As part of a joint memorandum of understanding to support trading and environmental markets, the two agencies are centralizing information for buyers and sellers to utilize water quality trading. This resource library will be searchable and help users find information specific to their needs. Both agencies will sponsor a national conference in 2015 for stakeholders to share experiences and move forward with trading as a valuable tool for driving environmental improvement.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

WHEN:             Tuesday, December 16, 2014

9:30 a.m. EST

WHO:               Gina McCarthy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator

Tom Vilsack, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary

Mike Boots, White House Council on Environmental Quality

Terry McAuliffe, Commonwealth of Virginia Governor

John Harrison, Appomattox farmer raising cattle, managing hay and timber lands

Brent Fults, founder of Chesapeake Bay Nutrient Land Trust, LLC

WHERE:           McConnell Public Safety Transportation Operation Center

4890 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030

RSVP:            Media who would like to attend the event should contact [email protected] 

***NOTE: Media will need to check-in upon arrival at the secure facility. Please plan to arrive at least 20 minutes before the start of the event.  

Nutrient Credit Trading Event – Handout by Restoration Systems, LLC

North Carolina, Neuse River Basin Dam Removal Paying Dividends for Anadromous Fish

Anadromous fish are those, such as shad, that return to freshwater to spawn after spending part of their lives in the ocean. Bennett Wynne, the North Carollina Wildlife Resources Commission’s Anadromous Fisheries Coordinator is quoted as saying “In the Neuse River, hickory shad have been more abundant. Last week, we picked up a few around Goldsboro, along with some American shad. I am cautiously optimistic about shad numbers. Removing dams is important to both species but more so for American shad because they prefer spawning on the rockier substrate above the fall line. Most of the hickory shad population is found from Kinston downstream, where Pitchkettle Creek is the historical place where fishermen catch them. Last year we had strong flows in the river and we saw a good turnout of anglers at Milburnie Dam near Raleigh in Wake County. It is great that we can have a fishery for shad that far inland.”

We plant trees, thousands of them!

Photos of recent tree planting in the buffer zone at Bass Mountain Stream and Nutrient Bank, North Carolina

Stream Banks – an Essential Tool to achieve No Net Loss

“Mitigation Banking” may be an difficult term but it’s proving to be an essential tool for improving and protecting wetlands, streams, and other aquatic resources impacted by development.  It will only grow in importance as America yearns for energy security, while continuing to embrace noble goals of “no net loss” of wetlands and “fishable and swimmable ” quality under the Clean Water Act. For starters, the word “mitigation” is confusing. It has a different meaning in the Clean Water Act (CWA) and aquatic resources context compared to mitigation under Clean Air Act and greenhouse gas programs, where it connotes reduction, even prevention of emissions. For CWA and aquatic impacts, it’s essentially about compensation – the actions permittees must take to pay for resulting “sins” of a project making its way through the regulatory process.This all underscores the most important principle for environmentalists and responsible regulators: “sequencing”. They may be willing to support compensatory mitigation if it’s the third and final step, the last resort, after step 1: practicable alternatives analysis and step 2: minimizing unavoidable impacts. Controversy surrounding the first step, when regulators challenge the purpose of a project and whether it really has to be in or near wetlands and other waters, creates a temptation to simply build first and ask forgiveness later. Regulators may also be tempted to skip or marginalize the second step, minimization, where permit applicants are expected to reduce environmental impacts by modifying project features, and go straight to mitigation. Environmentalists argue that deviations in sequencing, which put a priority on avoiding and minimizing harm, can lead to wheeling and dealing to enable unwise development.
Printed with permission of Ben Grumbles

How Many Trees Does It Take to Protect a Stream?

A strip of forest along a stream channel, also called a riparian forest buffer, has been proposed and used for decades as a best management practice to protect streams by filtering out contaminants from agriculture and other land uses before they can enter them. Their benefits are many, but one benefit has dominated social and political conversations, and that is their role in preventing contaminants from entering streams. A few years ago, Stroud Water Research Center proposed that riparian forest buffers also play another important role by improving the health of the stream and enabling it to provide more and better ecosystem services for both humans and wildlife — the processing of natural organic matter and pollutants, for example. Thus, a forest buffer provides a first line of defense (keeping sediment and nutrients out) as well as a secondary line of defense (keeping sediment and nutrients from moving downstream) for maintaining clean water in our streams and rivers.

Curbing Agricultural Runoff that Pollutes the Gulf of Mexico

From the Wall Street Journal, February 19, 2014
+ + + + + +
NEW MADISON, Ohio— Kevin Hollinger planted radishes and oats last fall in his corn and soybean fields, but he isn’t planning to harvest them. Instead, he is letting the crops die over the winter to improve the soil and keep fertilizer and other nutrients from running into nearby waterways. “I could hardly go to town without someone asking: ‘What’s that in your field?’ ” said Mr. Hollinger, a fourth-generation farmer. Helping to foot the bill for his experiment is a pilot program set to launch fully next month. Farmers in the Ohio River basin are being paid to make changes—from what they plant to how they handle manure—in an effort to minimize runoff that can cause hypoxia, or low oxygen levels, in waterways.
Nutrient runoff plays a role, nearly 1,000 miles downstream from Mr. Hollinger’s farm, in the formation of the so-called dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico—an area where fish and other aquatic life can’t survive and which is considered one of the nation’s biggest water-pollution problems. Shrinking the dead zone—which was most recently the size of Connecticut—has challenged regulators. Nutrients that flow down in the Mississippi River and end up in the Gulf come from hundreds of thousands of sources across more than a dozen states.

Read the whole article at

Gilinski on Nutrients

John Preyer and our partner in Virginia, Brent Fults, of the Chesapeake Bay Nutrient Land Trust, visited Duke University and Blue Devil country last week to see well regarded state and national water quality regulator Ellen Gilinski speak on nutrient problems.  Ellen is formerly the Director of the Water Division at the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and now Senior Policy Advisor at the EPA.  She did not disappoint and gave a fine summary of the challenges and opportunities in water quality and nutrient regulation.

Very good as well to see Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment place these visiting talks on the web.  Makes parking much easier.

Chesapeake Bay Nutrient Reduction Bank: Open for Business

Our friends and partners at Chesapeake Bay Nutrient Land Trust and EarthSource Solutions, of Richmond, recently placed the advertisement below in the local trade newsletter for the American Society of Consulting Engineers. Nutrient off-set and compliance credits are now available at our Cranston’s Mill Pond Nutrient Reduction Bank. See here for some great background on the hard work behind establishing the water quality banking system in Virginia.

This ground-breaking facility is the 2nd of its kind in Virginia, the 4th in the nation, and the largest proposed or approved nutrient reduction bank in the bay which uses only the top technology and software like the ones related to the posts on the Salesforce site for it to run efficiently. Cranston’s Mill services HUC: 02080206 of the James River which includes Charles City, James City, Isle of Wright, Surry, Prince George, Chesterfield, Henrico, Hanover, King William, New Kent, and York counties. It also includes City of Richmond, Williamsburg and Newport News.

Interested stormwater engineers or stormwater permitees in the James River Basin of Virginia should call Mr. Brent Fults or Mr. Scott Reed of CBNLT. CBNLT is the first Authorized Credit Broker in the bay and these gentleman would be happy to walk you through the benefits of purchasing off-site nutrient reduction for stormwater permits, examine your site plans for the suitability for off-site water quality improvement, and quote you a reserved price for the appropriate number of credits. Please give them a call today!

Nutrient Off-Set Ad – American Society of Consulting Engineers – Richmond Branch