Water Quality Trading Mechanism Enhances Willingness to Upgrade Rural Household Septic Systems in the Western Lake Erie Basin, Northwest Ohio


Water quality trading (WQT) is a market-based mechanism that aims to improve water quality in a way that maximizes economic efficiency while conserving environmental integrity. It is a compliance approach that allows point sources, such as factories, to meet regulatory obligations by using pollutant reductions created by another source, such as local farms, which has lower pollution control costs. The objective of this study was to explore the possibility of expanding the use of WQT from agriculture to rural septic systems, an often-neglected nonpoint source of nutrients to Lake Erie. Septic system upgrades in northwestern Ohio are of special interest because the soil conditions in this area pose a limitation to the effectiveness of nutrient removal for conventional soil-based systems. We assessed the willingness of septic system users to upgrade their systems using three scenarios emphasizing climate change, governmental regulation, or WQT. We found that septic system users were most interested in upgrades under the WQT scenario. The idea of WQT was better accepted in certain locations where septic system users were more concerned about the environment, perceived the local water quality to be degraded, and were aware of the limitation of their septic systems. Pilot WQT projects should focus on approaching these users.


Speaker / Author: 
Yanting Guo, MSc, PhD, Department of Environment, Safety, and Occupational Health, The University of Findlay
Karen Mancl, MS, MA, PhD, Department of Food, Agricultural, and Biological Engineering, The Ohio State University
Richard Moore, MA, PhD, School of Environment and Natural Resources, The Ohio State University
Month Year: 
January 2020
Page #: 
Publication Month: 
January/February 2020
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