As previously reported on Conduit Street, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) released draft regulations that would establish a water quality nutrient credit trading program on October 11, 2017. MACo’s concerns with the original draft version were limited and generally technical in nature. However, MDE recently announced the withdrawal of that version of the draft regulations and has resubmitted an amended draft that potentially raises additional county concerns.
There are four key changes in the amended version of the draft regulations:
- Water quality projects that received State or federal funding can still be sold to generate a credit but the credit amount will now be reduced/pro-rated because of the funding. Public funding from county or municipal sources is not subject to being pro-rated.
- Reduces the ability of wastewater treatment plants to participate in trading by increasing their qualifying nitrogen baseline from 3.5 mg/l to 3.0 mg/l.
- Adds an additional requirement that credits used in a locally impaired waterway must be generated within that waterway or upstream of the credit user’s discharge.
- Removes the option for an interstate trading pilot program.
MACo and county staff are reviewing the draft regulation changes and MACo will be offering a response shortly. The new public hearing date for the amended draft regulations is Monday, December 18, from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm at MDE headquarters in Baltimore City.