About NutrientNet

What is NutrientNet?

NutrientNet is a suite of web-based tools used to facilitate market-based approaches to improving water quality. NutrientNet has been used extensively for water quality trading programs, but it also has been used for other market-based approaches, such as reverse auctions.

Through a series economic analyses, including Fertile Ground: Nutrient Trading's Potential to Cost-Effectively Improve Water Quality., the World Resources Insitute determined that a number of factors affect the adoption of market-based approaches to water quality improvement. These include high transaction costs, the credibility of nonpoint source reductions, and public participation and oversight. By developing a tool that reduces transaction costs, standardizes the calculation of nonpoint source reductions, and allows the public to view market activity, WRI recognized that it encourage the adoption of market-based approaches. NutrientNet was created to achieve these goals.

Reducing Transaction Costs: NutrientNet provides a system for buyers and sellers to trade nutrient credits, as well as an easy way for program administrators to track projects, credits and trades.

Standardized Calculations of Nonpoint Source Reductions: NutrientNet provides an easy-to-use web-based interface for calculating nutrient reductions and credits. Users only need to login to NutrientNet and enter in characteristics of their agricultural operation, such as field size and soil type. NutrientNet's calculation engine uses the latest scientific research to accurately calculate nutrient reductions for best management practices.

Public Participation and Oversight: NutrientNet makes market activity available to the public. For example, in water quality trading programs, the public can average market prices and completed trades. NutrientNet also provides general information about nutrient trading and seeks to share lessons learned across watersheds.

Who is building NutrientNet?

The creation of NutrientNet is led by the World Resources Institute (WRI), a non-profit environmental group that provides information, ideas and solutions to global environmental problems.

Who uses NutrientNet?

NutrientNet has been developed for 4 watersheds in 5 states (plus the District of Columbia).

Potomac and Kalamazoo Watershed Pilot Project: Developed in 2002-2003, this site was a proof-of-concept for water quality trading in the Potomac and Kalamazoo (MI) watersheds.

Conestoga Watershed (PA) Reverse Auction Site: Developed in 2005, this site was used to conduct two reverse auctions that allocated $486,000 to agricultural management practices based on the lowest cost-per-pound of phosphorus reduction. A total of 92,000 pounds of phosphorus was estimated to be reduced over the lifespan of the projects.
» Read the WRI policy note: Paying for Environmental Performance: Using Reverse Auctions to Allocate Funding for Conservation

Kalamazoo Watershed NutrientNet: Starting in 2005, WRI developed a full-featured version of NutrientNet for Michigan's water quality trading program in the Kalamazoo watershed. This version contains phosphorus and sediment calculation tools for over 20 agricultural management practices, and a marketplace is current in development.
» Visit the website: Kalamazoo Watershed NutrientNet

Pennsylvania State Trading Program: Developed for Pennsylvania's state nutrient trading program, this version of NutrientNet contains nitrogen and phosphorus credit calculation tools, a robust marketplace and an extensive administrative system for trading program managers at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. This project involves trading in both the Susquehanna and Potomac watersheds.
» Visit the website: Pennsylvania NutrientNet

West Virginia Potomac Watershed: WRI is working with West Virginia University, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, and watershed stakeholders to develop NutrientNet for the Potomac Watershed in West Virginia. This site is currently under development and is expected to be released in 2008.

Who are the NutrientNet partners?

A number of organizations and agencies are parterning with WRI to develop NutrientNet, including:

Can NutrientNet be adapted for use in my watershed?

If you would like to use NutrientNet to explore market-based approaches for your watershed, please contact Mindy Selman at mselman@wri.org for more information.