Water Quality Trading Comment Template

July 19, 2017


Mr. David Kuszmar, PE

Watershed Protection Division, TMDL Unit

North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board

5550 Skylane Boulevard, Suite A,

Santa Rosa, CA 95403

(delivered via E-mail to David.Kuszmar@waterboards.ca.gov)


Dear Mr. Kuszmar,

I am writing to provide comments on the “Attachment 1 to Resolution No. R1-2017-0027, Water Quality Trading Framework for the Laguna de Santa Rosa Watershed, Public Review Draft, June 14, 2017. (draft Framework) I want to see the draft framework strictly adhere to the Guiding Principles of Sound Science, Accountability, Transparency and (public) Accessibility to ensure any transactions are held to the same standards required of NPDES Point Sources in the Federal and State Clean Water Act. In general I think it is dishonest to call this a Water Quality Trading program since it is proposed to conduct trades for POLLUTANTS and polluted runoff not Clean Water or Water Quality so it should be called what it really is, a Water Pollution Trading program and not spin reality.

I believe there are too many avenues to avoid meeting the 4 key principles listed above and offer the following suggestions to remedy those deficiencies:

  1. Currently only the two point source dischargers the City of Santa Rosa and the Town of Windsor would be able to use the draft Framework, prior to any new discharger or Permittee enrollments in this program we want to see the adopted Framework re-opened concurrently with the required permit updates for any new enrollees in a public hearing process.
  2. I want the Framework to incorporate a “local advisory group” with a diverse membership including citizens, local water advocates, scientists, engineers and academia that is independent of parties associated with implementing the draft Framework similar to the State of Washington’s program to provide input on pre-qualification of eligible trading practices OR a full public hearing process to fully vet any practices proposed for pre-qualification.
  3. I do not support ANY trading activity with unregulated non-point sources, either generators or sellers, who discharge Phosphorous and have no baseline requirements. Any eligible party or credit generation MUST be meeting current EPA Water Quality Standards for Phosphorous for Freshwater bodies in Aggregate Ecoregion III of 0.022mg/L to comply with North Coast Basin Plan requirements.
  4. Prior to any trading commences with parties other than the City of Santa Rosa and Town of Windsor’s POTW’s, we expect that TMDL’s are developed for any new parties like all other trading programs on the West Coast.
  5. I expect that when new pre-qualified practices are approved, site specific pre and post project water quality monitoring be conducted during rain events, when pollutants are discharged, to ensure the accuracy of computer models to determine credit quantification amounts generated from actual measured reductions in Phosphorous actually meet estimates provided in the pre-qualified practices process. Once confidence is established to the satisfaction of the local advisory group mentioned above then computer modeling could be used to determine credit generation based on the actual modeling data. Anything less does not meet the strict monitoring and reporting requirements of Point Source NPDES permits and address the high level of uncertainty with certain trading practices in addition to credit ratios to address uncertainty.
  6. I strongly support this program providing funds to large long –term restoration projects that either reduce legacy phosphorous in the Laguna or improve the Laguna’s ability to process and sequester nutrients in vegetation such as riparian trees. These projects have a long project life and can generate credits for many years providing a stable credit mechanism to assist Windsor and Santa Rosa in meeting permit limits. In order to encourage such projects we support a more favorable credit-banking scenario than three years for any such restoration projects such as five years, but I don’t support credit banking in perpetuity. In addition, any credit generating practices that provide only an annual benefit should not be allowed to bank beyond one year since those practices do not produce an enduring benefit.
  7. Last I expect that the Water Pollution Trading program credit certification, registration and tracking information as well as all associated documents related to pollution reduction activities to achieve baseline requirements for Phosphorous such as Farm Plans be available to the public via a website to be equivalent to public disclosure requirements for all NPDES point source permittees including all verification data and site specific monitoring and all data associated with any computer modeling along with all raw data and assumptions.


As Water Pollution Trading is not expressly authorized in the Clean Water Act, we expect the above comments to be incorporated into the draft Framework prior to adoption later this year to be consistent with NPDES requirements so that this program complies with the mandates of NPDES permits.


Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this document.




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