In 2010, the City of Harrisburg's Advanced Wastewater Treatment Facility (Harrisburg) was projecting an excess of 75,000 lbs. of nitrogen above its annual nitrogen discharge limit. The City hired Material Matters, Inc. to identify, summarize, analyze, and assist in developing a strategy for nutrient trading in PA's new nutrient trading program for the City. At the time, it was recognized that Harrisburg would need to develop a multi-year approach, since design and construction end dates were not certain at the time. Material Matters identified and provide assistance in selecting options for further consideration, assisted with evaluation in participating in the PA nutrient trading auction (PENNVEST), and completed an assessment of non-point source (NPS) options on Harrisburg biosolids farms. Options included initially for considered will be PENNVEST auction, PENNVEST bi-lateral agreement with non-point source (NPS) or point source (PS), bidding, or other type of direct (point source to point source) agreement. Ultimately, the City took Material Matters recommendation for the City to enter into direct negotiations for the direct purchase of 2011 TN credits and provided a list of recommended sellers to contact as well as a recommended negotiation approach.
The Pennsylvania Nutrient Trading Program (PANTP) enables wastewater treatment plants that treat their effluent to a greater degree than their permitted limits to generate nutrient "credits," which can be sold to point sources who are seeking nutrient credits to meet their NPDES permit obligations. In the fall of 2012, the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority (WVSA) was faced with selecting an option to sell the large number of nutrient credits generated at its wastewater treatment plant. The WVSA hired Material Matters to evaluate whether renewing a contract with a third party vendor to sell their credits or selling directly to other treatment plants was the most cost-effective method to pursue. Material Matters evaluated historic nutrient trading data and determined that selling credits without a third party had potential to be more cost effective, assuming a minimum amount of credits was sold. Material Matters was then assigned by the WVSA to market their credits to municipalities and industrial dischargers across the state. The marketing campaign was a great success, resulting in a sale of more than 90% of the WVSA's available total nitrogen and total phosphorus credits during water year 2014.