Tag Archives: Water pollution


Decoupling Water Pollution from Agricultural Production

China’s water pollution is a source of concern across the country and potentially a key constraint on continued development and social progress. New guidelines released by the FAO discuss the key pressures and impacts from agricultural and rural activities in China, best management practices for limiting water pollution, regulatory actions to minimize pollution, and potential market-based mechanisms to finance these efforts.

The guidelines were designed in response to the realization that technologies alone is sufficient to prevent non-point source pollution from agriculture, but that the effectiveness of alternative actions will depend on education, training, and farm advisory services so that farmers, citizens, and managers and aware of the dangers posed by NPS pollution.  One important difference between this guide and similar guides on minimizing NPS in Western agricultural is that it focuses on aspects of farming peculiar to China and other South and Southeast Asian countries.  For example, rice paddy farming requires quite different water management and farming techniques than Western farming methods. In addition, the guide focuses on best management practices for farms where much of the labor is still done by inidicual laborers, similar to many of the areas in which the Water Initiative works, rather than BMPs for managing NPS in industrial scale farms.

The guidelines examine pollution from the following sources:

  • soil erosion and sedimentation,
  • fertilizers,
  • pesticides,
  • irrigation and drainage,
  • livestock and crop waste,
  • freshwater aquaculture,
  • agricultural villages and towns, and
  • reclaimed wastewater for agriculture.

For each type of pollution, the guide offers best practices and opportunities for management – focusing specifically on practices relevant in the Chinese and South Asian communities, as well as comprehensive listing of available resources and information.

The guide closes with an examination of how these management practices and lessons can be applied in other South Asian and Southeast Asian countries.

What does this guide offer to us? A fairly comprehensive summary of best management practices for addressing a variety of pollution practices, explanations of the biophysical sources of pollutants and the effects that they have on water and downstream communities, and an application of both of these topics in a less-developed context.

Read the whole guide here: http://www.fao.org/docrep/019/i3536e/i3536e.pdf


New Washington, D.C. Rule for Stormwater Credit Trading


The newest water trading scheme in the United States is now in place with the final passage of the Washington, D.C. stormwater trading rule.  The rule, finalized on July 22, 2013, sets up a stormwater-trading-credit program.  The new rule applies to large construction projects that disturb 5,000 square feet or more of oil, as well as renovations to structures larger than 5,000 square feet which projects costs at least 50% of the pre-project value of the structure.

In order to meet the requirements of the stormwater retention rule, property owners must meet at least one-half of the required retention volume on-site, through installation of an approved type of green infrastructure, such as a green roof, rain garden, or permeable pavement.  In addition, property owners can purchase Stormwater Retention Credits (SRCs) to meet the remaining 50% of their required retention volume off-site.  Facilities also have the option to pay an in-lieu fee of $3.50/year/gallon of Off-Site Retention Volume (OSRv).

Pervious driveway, one of the approved green infrastructure designs for SRCs.

The Stormwater Credit Exchange (SCE) is the home of the market for the stormwater credits.  It’s too early in the process to tell how much activity the SCE will see – or how much eachSRC will end up costing.  The minimum rate set is $1/SRC, but will fluctuate as the market demands.

One hope of the new rule is that encouraging the production of SRCs in order to earn money will encourage smaller retrofits across the DC area – from individual homeowners to small businesses that can easily include a retrofit, but are not required to.  Spreading the installation of green infrastructure across the District should increase overall stormwater retention and protect watersheds and water bodies that have not benefited from previous stormwater management rules.

For more information about the new stormwater rule, see The Examiner’s article on the rule.

The Stormwater Credit Exchange, operated by the Center for Environment, Commerce & Energy, contains information about the qualifications for SRCs, the trading platform, and the formulas used to calculate the retention requirements for facilities.