Water Quality
Nonpoint Source Pollution

NPS pollution occurs when rainwater or snow melt carries sediment, organic materials, nutrients, or toxins into rivers, lakes, and streams. During large storms the runoff to surface water and the rate of infiltration to groundwater increases, and so does the rate of NPS pollutant movement. Almost any land use can lead to NPS pollution. The more intensive the land use, the greater the chance of pollution.

NPS comes from a variety of sources in both urban and rural areas. Examples of NPS pollution include:

sediment from improperly managed construction sites
farmlands and eroding streambanks
excess fertilizers and nutrients from croplands
golf courses
residential areas
acids and salts from mining operations
urban runoff and parking lots
toxic chemicals from building sites
nurseries and orchards
bacteria and viruses from domestic sewage
livestock waste

NPS affects drinking water supplies, wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities such as boating, swimming, fishing, and much more. It is the major challenge in our battle for cleaner water. Based on data from the OEPA, NPS pollution affects over 13,700 miles of Ohio’s 29,113 perennial stream miles. Twenty-nine percent of these perennial streams are classified as impaired as a result of nonpoint source pollution. NPS pollution is now the number one cause of water quality problems in Ohio. Hydromodification—-the physical alteration of a stream or river—-is the chief source of aquatic life use impairment.

NPS pollution is one of the most complex environmental problems facing Ohio, and its impacts are extensive. Many government agencies are confronting this problem by developing programs aimed to correct and prevent nonpoint source pollution. However, government alone cannot solve nonpoint source pollution problems. Pollution clean-up has proven difficult and costly; therefore, pollution prevention makes sense. Because NPS is caused by people, it is people who need to take an active role in preventing it. Pollution prevention needs to become an integral part of our routine behavior.

For more information on NPS visit the following site:     Nonpoint Source Pollution

Permits for wastewater have been required through the Clean Water Act since 1972.  The USEPA began to regulate stormwater with the inception of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Program.  In 1990, NPDES Phase I was established to regulate Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems, Industrial  Storm Water, and Construction Sites disturbing 5 acres or greater.  More recently, NPDES Phase II was established in 1999.  This phase added small municipalities (in urbanized areas as defined by census data) and construction activities disturbing 1 acre or greater to the list of permitted entities.

Under Phase II, permitted entities must develop a Municipal Storm Water Program (MSWP) aimed at reducing the discharge of pollutants and  protecting or improving existing water quality by implementing six minimum control measures.  

The six minimum measures are: 

  1. Public Education and Outreach
  2. Public Involvement and Participation
  3. Elimination of Illicit Discharges
  4. Pollution Prevention for Municipal Operations
  5. Construction Site Runoff Control
  6. Post-Construction Storm Water Management.