Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis




Agricultural Economics

First Advisor

Dr. Jack Schieffer

Second Advisor

Dr. Wuyang Hu


This study assessed the feasibility and suitability of a Water Quality Trading (WQT) program within the Kentucky River Basin (KRB). The study’s focal point was based on five success factors of a WQT program: environmental suitability, geospatial orientation, participant availability, regulatory incentive, and economic incentive. The study utilized these five success factors, geographical characteristics, and Discharge Monitoring Reports (DMR) to assess the feasibility of a WQT program.

The assessment divided the KRB into five eight digit Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUC), North, Middle, and South Fork, Middle Basin, and Lower Basin, to determine regional impacts caused by the nutrient PSs. Individual nutrient profiles were generated to show the number of point sources (PS) operating in the KRB, their geospatial orientation to one another, and their permitted nutrient limits and nutrient discharges in form of total phosphorus (TP), total nitrogen (TN), and total nitrogen (as ammonia) (TA).

Findings suggest trading is highly unlikely for TP and TN PSs due to the lack of regulatory standards, limited number of TN and TP PSs, and an inadequate demand for offset credits. Trading is also unlikely in all the HUC 8 watersheds except for the Lower Basin due to the lack of nutrient impaired waters.

Key Words: Point Source, Non-Point Source, Water Quality Trading, TMDL, Impaired Waters