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Does Water Quality Trading help reduce pollution?

Tuesday morning will mark the first time companies discharging into the Ohio River Basin can buy interstate water quality credits to help farmers upstream control their pollution.

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) is facilitating the trading. It says water quality trading is an "innovative market-based approach to achieving water quality goals for nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen."

Here's the thinking

Pollution sources at "the end of the pipe" like industries and wastewater treatment plants have to invest in very expensive equipment to comply with their permit limits. An increasing population makes it difficult. To help lessen overall pollution, these companies can buy credits to reduce farm runoff.

This trading agreement with Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, signed in August 2012, could eventually include eight states and create a market for 46 power plants, thousands of wastewater utilities and 230,000 farmers.

Butler County farmer Tim Hesselbrock is watching from the sidelines but continuing to reduce his own pollution. He says, "It's a cash system to help the farmer with his new practices and that, through several farm service agencies, (the farmer) can receive assistance in the way of changing equipment. This equipment is extremely expensive when you start changing it out to do different practices."

Tuesday at the Westin in downtown Cincinnati, administrators from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U. S. Department of Agriculture, Duke Energy, Hoosier Energy and more will explain the process from 9a.m.-4.p.m.