WSAA has published the results of another successful industry collaboration. A world leading analysis of the ability of nutrient trading to deliver environmental outcomes.

Protecting water quality is at the heart of water utilities’ operations, from ensuring clean drinking water supplies to managing treated effluent in large-scale recycling schemes. Across urban Australia and New Zealand, effective tertiary sewage treatment systems remove considerable amounts of solids, nutrients, and pathogens from effluent before it re-enters waterways. However, as licensed point source pollution activities, water utilities often face higher regulatory and community expectations compared to diffuse source pollution from stormwater or agricultural runoff, which typically have a more significant overall impact.

The intent of this report is to outline benefits, hazards for implementation and management, and a range of governance framework approaches for catchment nutrient offsets based on existing market mechanism experiences across Australia and internationally.

Authored by Professor Michele Burford and Dr Jing Lu at Griffith University, the report outlines the benefits of nutrient trading, including the ability to:

  • Provide flexibility in meeting nutrient reduction targets,
  • Incentivize innovation and cost-effective solutions, and
  • Provide a mechanism for funding catchment management activities.

The report also discusses the challenges associated with implementing a nutrient trading regime, including the need for robust monitoring and verification systems, the need for clear rules and regulations, and the need for stakeholder engagement.