Why Is Non-Point Pollution So Dangerous?

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The real danger to the quality of the water is not industrial wastes but human created wastes that comes from residential neighborhoods. This pollution is called Nonpoint source (NPS) pollution.

This type of pollution is caused by rainfall or melting snow that runs over cement and parking lots and carries insecticide, oil and gas, fertilizers and herbicides that are sprayed on gardens and grass directly to our waterways.

Other pollutants are the oil, grease or toxic chemicals that are produced as a result of urban sprawl. Many people ignore the warnings of our governmental agencies and continue to use poisonous substances on their lawns and in their day-to-day life.

These pollutants end up in our water resources. As a result, pollution from these sources are cited by many state agencies as “uncontrolled pollution” Stormwater runoff pollution impacts the quality of water and will eventually impact where and how humans can live.

If left unchecked, the water supply will not support life. While the EPA has created programs under the Clean Water Act to protect the quality of our water, the prevention of pollution is dependent on individuals learning to prevent pollution.

Most of the Pollution Prevention programs are managed by the state environmental agencies and the rules and regulations are created for larger business sectors. The exceptions to this rule are in the states of:


New Mexico



New Hampshire

In these states, the EPA retains complete authority. According to the EPA, states are more concerned about nonpoint source pollution. States report that this pollution is the leading remaining cause of water quality problems.

Phase I of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System(NPDES) requires all point sources discharging pollutants into waters of the United States to obtain a permit. This program was designed for cities with populations of more than 100,000. The NPDES also targeted large industrial and construction sites. The statues required that industries and construction sites begin treating storm water runoff from their locations.

These restrictions limited and reduced the pollution from these industrial sites. Site pollution control maintenance is a priority for most industries. Heavy fines and penalties are levied against those industries when they do not adhere to the EPA guidelines. However the pollution from the residential areas continue to increase. It is difficult to pinpoint residential hotspots.

Phase II of NPDES was announced in December 1999 and required that more than 5,000 municipalities and all new developments of one acre or larger implement Best Management Practices ‘s (BMP’s) for stormwater treatment to the maximum extent that was practical.

The compliance to these BMP’s was also implemented. The data indicated that pollution was reduced and controlled from those municipalities that were regulated. But the reduced level of pollution from industrial and commercial sites was ineffective because the level of pollution from non-industrial locations continued to increase.

The effects of nonpoint source pollutants on specific waters vary within separate municipalities. Governmental agencies have released critical data that confirms that nonpoint source pollution is the leading cause of water pollution. This type of pollution is difficult to control or to legislate because the source is so widespread and not easily contained. This type of pollution is created by the public at large.

The focus of state environmental agencies is to increase public awareness of this problem. Implementing programs at the community level will provide strategies to manage nonpoint source pollution.

These pollutants have harmful effects on drinking water, recreation, fisheries, and wildlife. It is the responsibility of industry as well as individual citizens to work together to protect our water supply.

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