NEMO PROGRAM FACTSHEET
What is Nonpoint Source Pollution?
Nonpoint source pollution is a fancy term forpolluted runoff. Water washing over the land,whether from rain, car washing or the wateringof crops or lawns, picks up an array of contami-nantsincluding oil and sand from roadways,agricultural chemicals from farmland andnutrients and toxic materialsfrom urban and suburban areas.This runoff finds its way intoout waterways, either directlyor through storm drain collec-tion systems.The term nonpoint is used todistinguish this type of pollu-tion from point sourcepollution, which comes fromspecific sources such assewage treatment plants or industrial facilities.Scientific evidence shows that although hugestrides have been made in cleaning up majorpoint sources, our precious water resourcesare still threatened by the effects of pollutedrunoff. In fact, the Environmental ProtectionAgency (EPA) estimates that this type of pollution is now the single largest cause of thedeterioration of out nation’s water quality.
Whatever They Call It, Why Should ICare About It?
The effects of polluted runoff are not limitedto large lakes or coastal bays. In fact, chancesare that you don’t have to look any fartherthan your neighborhood stream or duck pond.Water pollution in your town, and perhaps inyour own backyard, can result in anythingfrom weed-choked ponds to fish kills tocontaminated drinking water.There’s not much chance that you can ignorethis problem, even if you want to. Concernover polluted runoff has resulted in an ever-increasing number of state and federal lawsenacted over the last five years. At the federallevel, a permit program for stormwaterdischarges from certain municipalities andbusinesses is now underway, and coastal zonemanagement authorities are in theprocess of adding nonpoint sourcecontrol to their existing programs. Inaddition to implementing thesefederal programs, many states havepassed laws altering local land use(planning and zoning) processes andbuilding codes to address the problemof polluted runoff. The bottom line isthat both polluted runoff and itsmanagement are likely to affect youand your town in the near future.
What Causes Polluted Runoff?
You do. We all do. Polluted runoff is thecumulative result of our everyday personalactions and our local land use policies. Here’sa brief rundown on the causes and effects of the major types of pollutants carried by runoff.
Pathogens are disease-causingmicroorganisms, such as bacteria and viruses,that come from the fecal waste of humans andanimals. Exposure to pathogens, either fromdirect contact with water or through ingestionof contaminated shellfish can cause a numberof health problems. Because of this, bathingbeaches and shellfish beds are closed to thepublic when testing reveals significantpathogen levels. Pathogens wash off the landfrom wild animal, farm animal and pet waste,and can also enter our waterways from
NONPOINT SOURCE WATER POLLUTION
Linking Land Use to Water Quality
“The bottom line isthat both pollutedrunoff and itsmanagement arelikely to affect youand your town inthe near future.”