Feasibility of point‐nonpoint source trading for managing agricultural pollutant loadings to coastal waters

Stephen R. Crutchfield, David Letson, Arun S. Malik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


A recent focus of water quality policy discussions has been the trading of pollution abatement between point and nonpoint sources. Point‐nonpoint trading would allow point sources to sponsor nonpoint source controls rather than install further controls of their own. If nonpoint source loadings are significant and the marginal costs of their control are lower than for additional point source controls, water quality goals could be met at lower cost with trading. We isolate difficulties particular to incentive policies such as point‐nonpoint trading and then screen coastal watersheds for those satisfying conditions that play a major role in determining whether trading can improve water quality. We follow the recent Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments in emphasizing agriculture, the single largest cause of nonpoint source pollution. Our screening analysis provides an initial, empirical assessment of the feasibility of trading for managing agricultural land use to protect coastal water quality. We also illustrate the additional analysis required to quantify the potential for successful trading in those watersheds which meet our screening criteria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2825-2836
Number of pages12
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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