What is Nonpoint Source Pollution?
Nonpoint source (NPS) pollution, also known as runoff or diffuse pollution, is a major contributor of pollutants in Kentucky’s waterways. Unlike point source pollution, NPS pollution comes from many different sources over distributed areas. Point source pollution occurs when pollutants are discharged from distinct, confined conveyances, such as a pipe, well or even a boat. Point sources are permitted and monitored by the government. NPS Pollution is all the pollution that cannot be directly attributed to a point source. Generally, this means all pollution on the ground. The wide spread nature of nonpoint source pollution makes it difficult to monitor and impossible to permit. Even though NPS pollution is hard to regulate, it is one of the largest threats to water quality.
NPS pollution comes in many different forms. When runoff from rainfall or snowmelt is not able to infiltrate into the soil, it instead flows over the surface of the ground where it comes in contact with pollutants. These pollutants are carried by the moving water over the ground, and then deposited into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters and even in underground aquifers. Oil and gas on roads and driveways, fertilizers on lawns, pesticides on food crops, soap from car washes, and dirt from construction sites are just a few of the many sources that contribute to NPS pollution. NPS pollutants can also come in the form of things in the water, like cattle in streams or collapsing stream banks. As these different pollutants build up in the water, our water quality declines. A decline in water quality is bad not only for the plants and animals that live in the water, but also for our drinking water.
Kentucky’s Nonpoint Source Management Program
The Kentucky Nonpoint Source Management Program is authorized under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) amendments of 1987. While some people are familiar with Section 319(h), the grant program, fewer people are aware that Section 319(b) is the requirement for the development of a management program for controlling NPS pollution. This plan is called the Nonpoint Source Management Plan.
KDOW has designed the Kentucky Nonpoint Source (NPS) Management Plan to be used for several purposes. First, this plan was designed as a way to inform citizens of the work the agency is doing to reduce nonpoint source pollution. Understanding what causes NPS pollution and the steps to decrease its effects in our state are necessary for lasting improvements to our water quality. Second, anyone applying for a Section 319(h) grant should draw on this document as a way of understanding the Commonwealth’s priorities for the NPS Management Program.
Section 319(h) Grant Program
By amendment to the federal Clean Water Act in 1987, the Section 319(h) Grant program was established to provide funding for efforts to reduce nonpoint source pollution. Each year DOW applies to US EPA to receive 319(h) funding. After receiving the federal award, DOW distributes a majority of the monies received through a competitive grant award process. Within this program, funds may be used to demonstrate innovative best management practices (BMPs), support education and outreach programs, develop Watershed Based Plans, and to implement Watershed Based Plans.
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Have a question, or need more information?
If you have any questions regarding nonpoint source pollution, e-mail Nonpoint Source Pollution.