A phosphorus credit trading program for the Lower Fox River watershed in Wisconsin is being developed through a new effort under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The three-year project, to commence in April, will be led by the Great Lakes Commission (GLC) through a partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Pollution in the Lower Fox River comes from diverse sources such as farm fields, barnyards, residential yards, and industrial and municipal wastewater treatment plants. Phosphorus, which will be targeted by this program, is particularly problematic. A trading program will improve water quality in the Lower Fox River and Green Bay by allowing all those who discharge phosphorus into the Lower Fox River to seek the lowest cost option to achieve phosphorus reduction goals. The credits can come from various actions, which may include purchasing pollution reductions from another source or voluntary conservation actions by private landowners to protect and restore priority watersheds.
The GLC will collaborate closely with local and regional stakeholders in the Fox River and Green Bay areas, cities, industries, tribal and agricultural interests, and nongovernmental organizations to build on the years of effort and experience in the watershed. The project will also work closely with the State of Wisconsin, USDA and other relevant federal agencies.
The Fox River project is expected to serve as a model that can be replicated in other parts of the region.
The Great Lakes Commission, chaired by Kenneth G. Johnson, water division administrator at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, is an interstate compact agency established under state and U.S. federal law and dedicated to promoting a strong economy, healthy environment and high quality of life for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region and its residents. The Commission consists of governors’ appointees, state legislators, and agency officials from its eight member states. Associate membership for Ontario and Québec was established through the signing of a “Declaration of Partnership.” The Commission maintains a formal Observer program involving U.S. and Canadian federal agencies, tribal authorities, binational agencies and other regional interests. The Commission offices are located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Learn more at www.glc.org.