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Oregon Department of Environmental Quality

Water Quality

Water Quality Trading

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Water Quality Trading Rules

The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission unanimously approved rules establishing a voluntary water quality trading program to facilitate pollution reduction and protect the quality of Oregon’s waterways on Thursday December 10, 2015. The new rules, at OAR 340 Division 039, establish a trading program that is transparent and enforceable and will provide clarity for regulated entities, the public and DEQ staff.

View the rules on the Secretary of State website.


Water quality trading is an innovative program that allows facilities that discharge wastewater to a stream or river to meet regulatory obligations by:

  • Purchasing equivalent or larger pollution reductions from another source; or
  • Taking action to protect or restore riparian areas, wetlands, floodplains, and aquatic habitat to reduce the impact of pollutants.

Trading is based on the fact that dischargers in a watershed can face very different costs to control the same pollutant. Trading programs allow facilities facing higher pollution control costs to meet their regulatory obligations by purchasing environmentally equivalent (or superior) pollution reductions from another source at lower cost, thus achieving the same water quality improvement at lower overall cost. Trading may also allow Oregon to achieve water quality improvements more quickly than would otherwise be possible.

Water Quality Trading in National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permits IMD

In December 2009, DEQ updated its guidance on water quality trading to encourage and expand the use of water quality trading in Oregon. The purpose of the updated guidance, which is formally known as an internal management directive or IMD, is to provide DEQ staff with a consistent framework for evaluating water quality trades implemented through the NPDES permit program. The IMD will also provide interested parties with information on the DEQ process for evaluating trading opportunities.

The update to the IMD clarified it is focused on NPDES permittees because DEQ expects the majority of trading activity to be driven by the need to comply with total maximum daily load wasteload allocations or other requirements in NPDES permits, such as mass load limitations. However, it may be used as a framework for trading in other situations.

Permits with Approved Water Quality Trading Programs



EPA Resources

Other Water Quality Trading Resources


[print version]

For more information about Water Quality Trading contact Ranei Nomura by phone at 541-686-7799 or by email.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Headquarters: 811 SW Sixth Ave., Portland, OR 97204-1390
Phone: 503-229-5696 or toll free in Oregon 1-800-452-4011
Oregon Telecommunications Relay Service: 1-800-735-2900  FAX: 503-229-6124

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is a regulatory agency authorized to protect Oregon's environment by
the State of Oregon and the Environmental Protection Agency.

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