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Capitol Update
By Senator Howard Marklein
April 5, 2019

Real Potential For Real Results
Water quality improvement is key goal of Pollution Prevention Partnership Legislation

I am proud to be a co-sponsor of Senate Bill (SB) 91, also known as the Pollution Prevention Partnership, which creates a clearinghouse for water quality credit trading in Wisconsin. The goal of this legislation is to encourage the creation and trading of water quality credits in a meaningful, efficient way and to encourage water quality improvement throughout our state.  This is a new effort to encourage Wisconsinites to improve water quality while also providing relief for municipal governments and point-source water permit holders.
The Pollution Prevention Partnership is particularly important to the 17th Senate District because we have a number of point sources – municipal wastewater treatment plants – that are facing extremely stringent phosphorus regulations that are becoming more and more difficult to reach without huge financial impacts to our communities. Many of our municipal wastewater plants have made notable strides in reducing phosphorus, but their permit requirements are nearly impossible to meet without spending a lot of money to renovate their facilities. This would be a tremendous burden for taxpayers!
If this bill is successful, our communities will be able to purchase water quality credits to meet their permit requirements through a clearinghouse. They will only spend a fraction of what it would cost to do huge renovations. In addition, the municipalities will be investing in projects that are specifically targeting sources of pollution that may ultimately reduce the amount of pollution coming through their plants.
In addition, the 17th Senate District is covered in agricultural land with rivers and streams throughout. We have a tremendous opportunity for non-point sources of pollution to do projects and create credits that they can sell. This may be another positive stream of income for farmers and land-owners throughout our community. Not only will they be able to make some money – but they will also be impacting our water quality and environment in a positive way.
Water quality credits are created when someone does a project, makes an improvement or applies technology in a way that improves water quality.  For example, a farm with a stream on their property may do a project on their land that reduces the amount of pollutants that run into the stream. As they complete the project, they create credits which may then be sold to a wastewater treatment facility or industrial plant within their hydrologic area. These credits are then used to meet the requirements of a facility’s water quality permit.
This legislation creates a third-party clearinghouse model to encourage the creation and trading of credits. This model will essentially create financial incentives for people to do projects, help others do projects and purchase credits that actually produce results in a common hydrologic area. Current law allows credit trading, but we believe the clearinghouse model will produce better results.
The clearinghouse model creates a role and incentive for independent brokers to work with non-point sources, like farmers, to create projects. These brokers also work with the point sources, like wastewater treatment plants, to buy the credits.  The brokers benefit financially from creating projects and connecting contracts. The clearinghouse and brokers will also have access to best practices and effective technology.
If this bill becomes law, the Department of Administration (DOA), in consultation with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), will contract with a company to provide the clearinghouse. The clearinghouse would be the statewide broker responsible for the management of buying and selling credits and maintaining an online registry of credits to facilitate the location of potential buyers, available credits and other information to facilitate credit transactions.
There will also be an opportunity for independent third-party brokers to have trading contracts that must be approved by the DNR in concert with the clearinghouse. There are already people and organizations in our communities who are working on water quality projects. I am hopeful that some of these people may become brokers and take advantage of the opportunity.
SB 91 was approved by the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy on March 29, 2019.  I was proud to vote for the bill as a member of that committee.  I am hopeful that this legislation will reach the Senate floor very soon.

For more information and to connect with me, visit my website http://legis.wisconsin.gov/senate/17/marklein and subscribe to my weekly E-Update by sending an email to Sen.Marklein@legis.wisconsin.gov. Do not hesitate to call 800-978-8008 if you have any questions or need assistance with any state-related matters.