Water Quality Trading and Offset

Water Quality Trading and Offset Resources

Explore the Water Quality Trading and Offset Subpages to find resources on policies, programs, technical guidance, tools, monitoring reports, and more about WQT in the U.S. and world-wide.


Water quality trading (WQT) developed as an innovative market-based method for achieving water quality improvements in watersheds where point and non-point pollutant sources face different costs to control the same pollutant. In the last two decades, offset programs have adapted elements from WQT to aid non-point pollutant sources in urban and developed environments meet compliance with stormwater runoff and pollutant reductions. In the United States, voluntary participation in WQT allows National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit holders (point sources) facing high control costs to meet certain regulatory obligations by purchasing pollutant reductions generated by a source that is able to implement controls at a lower cost. In appropriate settings, WQT can reduce overall compliance costs for facilities by providing flexibility while encouraging and rewarding applicable non-point source ecosystem improvements and increasing stakeholder interaction within a watershed.