Wisconsin could be the home of the nation’s first water quality credit system after legislation sailed through the State Assembly earlier this week. The bill has also passed in the State Senate. The Environmental Protection Agency requires that point-source polluters limit agricultural runoff like nitrates and phosphorus. Those regulations change over time, and the incremental cost of getting below the cap has become expensive, says State Representative Joel Kitchens. He says it may be cheaper to have a waste treatment plant fund small projects that eliminate the pollution “upstream” at the local farm level rather than invest in new filters or other technology to try and strain it out right before discharge into lakes and waterways. Kitchens’ bill sets up a new water quality credit clearinghouse that facilitates cooperation between large point-source entities and smaller farms or golf courses.
The bill is headed to the desk of Governor Tony Evers, where Kitchens believes it will be signed. The bill has support from several industry groups, including the Dairy Business Association.