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P4P: Reducing

Phosphorus from
Creating a Pay-for-Performance Program using Field-specific Information
in the West Branch of the Milwaukee River Watershed

2014 Clean Rivers, Clean Lake Conference
May 1, 2014
Project Team
Misaligned Programs & Incentives
Point Sources
On the hook to implement
treatment technologies to meet
more stringent permit limits
WWTPs will be able to meet P
permit limits only at great expense
relying on water treatment
technology alone.
Even if permit limits are met,
water quality impairments from
nutrients may not improve
Non-Point Sources
Conservation dollars are focused on
practice implementation
Environmental outcomes not
explicit goal
No motivation or incentive for
producers to take most cost-
effective actions
Conservation activities have not
reduced impairments in many
Economic Justification
Well-established markets are lacking
Current incentives (cost-share) tied to specific practices
Broad eligibility criteria
Designed to offset cost
Effectiveness varies greatly
Performance-based incentives can develop into a price for pollution control
Pay-for-Performance Conservation
Rewards farmers for achieving specific environmental performance targets
Farmers choose how to achieve targets
Incentivizes farmers to choose the most cost-effective actions

Providing appropriately designed incentives for environmental
performance will result in efficient allocation of resources at the farm
Allowing flexibility to achieve performance targets will motivate farmers,
induce innovation, and reduce costs.
Why the West Branch?
Heavy Ag (75%)
Location, location, location
Upstream of Milwaukee
Watershed drains into Lake Michigan
and has direct impacts on
environmental quality
On the ground work happening
Sand County Foundations Ag
Incentives program (since 2010)
Engage with farmers in nutrient
management planning
37,000 acres
Fond du Lac, Dodge and
Washington counties
75% in Agricultural use
25% forest and wetlands
with homesteads and
small businesses
2 USGS 12-digit HUCs
The Tools: Data, Models & Monitoring
Edge of Field and In
Flow rates
Sediment (TDS, TSS)
Nitrite + Nitrate,
Ammonium, Total
Kjeldahl N
Phosphorus (Dissolved
Reactive, Total)
solar radiation,
Soil moisture
Field Conditions
Timing of Field
Management Activities
The Tools: Data, Models & Monitoring
The Tools: Data, Models & Monitoring
Field-level farm planning tool and
P Index calculator for Wisconsin
Whole watershed-to-subbasin flow,
sediment, and P loss model
APEX/Nutrient Tracking Tool
Field-level flow, sediment, and P
And others
Use field-level models for
decision making
Use watershed-level modeling for
setting payment structure
Bridging field-level models to
watershed models
Tying data from monitoring to
models for validation and
Will we be able to see/measure
The Decision Making System
Work with farmers to discuss
current farm practices
Establish conservation practice
implementation scenarios
Analyze the costs and benefits of
the different options against the
phosphorus reduction
Farmer contracts for phosphorus
reduction payment
Producers engaged in the
decision making process

Potential practices that could be
implemented include:
4R nutrient management (rate,
source, timing, placement)
Cover crops
Contour cropping
Buffers and filter strips
Diversified rotations
Tillage method
The Demand Driver
Wisconsin Phosphorus Rules
Allows for downstream permit holders
to look upstream for nutrient reduction
Two* mechanisms available
Water Quality Trading
Generates credits for phosphorus
reduction to meet compliance
Adaptive Management Option
Monitors water quality to evaluate
in stream phosphorus reduction
*Possible 3
Option point sources
paying counties for NPS reduction
Upstream reduction is more cost
effective than implementation
of treatment technologies
Farmers better manage
nutrients, which can save
money without impacting yields
AND get additional farm
WPDES permit holders obtain
compliance for less cost, if the
AMO and WQT systems are
Pay-for-Performance could be
incorporated into Watershed
Adaptive Management Option,
WQT systems and/or USDA
conservation programs
The Upside
In the Milwaukee River Watershed, the Great Lakes
Basin, and beyond, P4P could
Give regulated point sources a powerful new tool to implement watershed-
wide compliance programs, for example under Wisconsins Adaptive
Management Option (AMO)
Increase farmers profits by reducing P loss in the most cost-effective manner
Increase number of organizations that are serving as aggregators of P loss
reductions and are working as technical service providers to farmers and
Reduce P loads into the Great Lakes and other valuable water resources
Thank You
Sand County Foundation:
Joseph Britt

Winrock International: Jon Winsten,
Delta Institute: William Schleizer,