Clean Water Credits for Conservation: The Saluda-Reedy River Watershed, SC The goal for this project was to develop a funding stream to protect working forest and agricultural lands that provide clean water in the Saluda-Reedy, South Carolina watershed. This project could be a valuable pilot project with broader application. Upstate Foreverevaluated a “clean water credit” program whereby water utilities would pay landowners for credits earned for management practices that protect or improve water quality, such as reducing pollution. This project ties to the Endowment’s interest in encouraging clean water users (water utilities and their customers) to pay water producers (forestry and agricultural lands) for the services they provide.
Upstate Forever compared pollution reduction costs for typical working lands projects (e.g. Best Management Practices [BMP]) with typical residential projects, such as septic repairs. This addressed a stated need by water utilities for economic justification for working lands projects—they are much more familiar with the economics of septic systems and similar approaches. Upstate Forever focused on the long-term maintenance cost benefits of working lands projects.
They found that Working lands projects are very cost-effective to maintain for some forms of pollution control:
Cost of Project Maintenance by Pollutant Removal
Ag BMP Project
Upstate Forever will use this and other information to continue to promote the benefits of a clean water credit program in this watershed. The Endowment will use the report to support our nationwide efforts.