The search for solutions to the problem of non-point source pollution (NSP) includes alternatives based on theories associated with the use of tradable pollution permits. Tradable permit programs have received significant support as a promising policy for the reduction of effluent discharges but programs in practice have not been regarded as successful. The lack of success is ascribed to the design of the programs. However, this may be a design problem which is insurmountable due to the nature of the NSP problem. Tradable permit solutions are based on an assumption that the assignation of quantifiable rights to both point and nonpoint sources, based on some predetermined ambient water quality measure, is possible. The conclusion here is that there are significant features particular to NSP that hinder the introduction of rights and significantly decrease the utility of tradable permit solutions.