Vermont is exploring the potential of a phosphorus trading program to improve water quality in the Lake Champlain Basin.

Vermont’s Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) and the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (VDEC) are seeking proposals to prepare a phosphorus trading feasibility study and framework for potential application. The goals of the project are to evaluate market-based strategies to help reduce overall phosphorus pollution targets of the Lake Champlain Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) in a cost-effective manner.

Some of the more common nutrient trading strategies include offsets, reverse auctions, trading that involve bi-lateral negotiations, and exchange markets.

The new Lake Champlain phosphorus TMDL under development will include additional actions across all land uses to reduce nonpoint source runoff. Moreover, higher nutrient loading from agricultural runoff in three of Lake Champlain Basin’s watersheds – Missisquoi Bay, St. Albans Bay, and South Lake – will require additional control measures.

Upon completion of the TMDL, efforts will seek to reduce nutrient loading and achieve pollution targets in the most cost-effective manner possible.