This document is the third volume of Section 319 Success Stories, the first volume of which was published in November 1994 and the second in October 1997. The first document illustrated the states' achievements in their initial efforts to implement their nonpoint source programs under section 319 of the Clean Water Act. The second volume demonstrated the maturation of the state programs and was replete with many examples of the documented water quality improvements, improved fisheries, reduced loadings, and increased public awareness that are a result of the many projects that have received section 319 funding.
Success Stories: Volume III contains approximately two new stories per state, highlighting some of the additional successes achieved since the 1997 publication. These stories demonstrate better-defined water quality improvements, as well as growing partnerships and funding sources, as state 319 programs expand and states learn increasingly more from past 319 demonstration projects. Collectively, they represent only a fraction of the section 319 project successes.
Nonpoint source pollution
After Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972, the Nation's water quality community placed a primary emphasis on addressing and controlling point source pollution (pollution coming from a discrete conveyance or location, such as industrial and municipal waste discharge pipes). Not only were these sources the primary contributors to the degradation of our nation's waters at the time, but the extent and significance of nonpoint source pollution was also poorly understood and overshadowed by efforts to control pollution from point sources.
Today, nonpoint source pollution remains the Nation's largest source of water quality problems. It is the main reason that approximately 40 percent of surveyed rivers, lakes, and estuaries are not clean enough to meet basic uses such as fishing or swimming.
Nonpoint source pollution occurs when rainfall, snowmelt, or irrigation water runs over land or through the ground, picks up pollutants, and deposits them into rivers, lakes, and coastal waters or introduces them into groundwater. Nonpoint source pollution also includes adverse changes to the hydrology of water bodies and their associated aquatic habitats.
The most common nonpoint source pollutants are soils and nutrients that storm water runoff picks up as it flows overland to rivers and streams; for example, runoff from agricultural land and other treated open spaces, urban developments, construction sites, roads, and bridges. Other common nonpoint source pollutants include pesticides, pathogens (bacteria and viruses), salt, oil, grease, toxic chemicals, and heavy metals.
The most recent National Water Quality Inventory (1998) indicates that nonpoint sources constitute the leading sources of water pollution in the United States today. States and other jurisdictions reported agriculture as the most widespread source of pollution in assessed rivers, streams, and lakes, with hydromodification and urban runoff following as the second and third leading sources of pollution.
Nonpoint source pollution causes or contributes to beach closures, destroyed habitat, unsafe drinking water, fish kills, and many other severe environmental and human health problems. It also spoils the beauty and important functions of clean, healthy water habitats.
Nonpoint source pollution causes or contributes to beach closures, destroyed habitat, unsafe drinking water, fish kills, and many other severe environmental and human health problems.
Nonpoint source programSection 319 of the Clean Water Act
Congress established the national nonpoint source program in 1987 when it amended the Clean Water Act with section 319, "Nonpoint Source Management Programs." States were to address nonpoint source pollution by
All states and territories and, as of September 2001, more than 70 tribes (representing over 70 percent of Indian Country) now have EPA-approved nonpoint source assessments and management programs.
- Conducting statewide assessments of their waters to identify those that are impaired (do not fully support state water quality standards) or threatened (currently meet water quality standards but are unlikely to continue to meet water quality standards fully) because of nonpoint sources.
- Developing nonpoint source management programs to address the impaired or threatened waters identified in nonpoint source assessments.
- Implementing their EPA-approved nonpoint source management programs over a multiyear time frame.
The stories highlight the range of best management practices, training programs, and other acitivites implemented to achieve measurable improvements in water quality.
In 1995, recognizing the growing experience of states, tribes, and localities in addressing nonpoint source pollution and the fact that state, tribal, and local nonpoint source programs had matured considerably since enactment of section 319 in 1987, representatives of EPA and the states, under the auspices of the Association of State and Interstate Water Pollution Control Administrators (ASIWPCA), initiated joint discussions to develop a new framework for further strengthening state nonpoint source programs. These discussions continued for more than a year, spanning fiscal years (FY) 1995 and 1996, and resulted in new national section 319 program and grant guidance that EPA signed and ASIWPCA endorsed. This May 1996 guidance reflected the states' and EPA's joint commitment to upgrade state nonpoint source management programs to incorporate nine key program elements designed to achieve and maintain beneficial uses of water.
The guidance also provided for discontinuing competitive award of a portion of each state's annual section 319 grant award, thereby ensuring a firm annual planning target for each state at the outset of each annual award cycle, reducing the amount and frequency of administrative oversight and reporting, and offering greater flexibility for the states and territories in establishing priorities for the use of these funds. Additionally, a state that incorporates all nine key elements into its revised nonpoint source management program and has a proven track record of effective implementation of its nonpoint source programs is formally recognized by the Regional Administrator and the Assistant Administrator for Water as a Nonpoint Source Enhanced Benefits State. Nonpoint Source Enhanced Benefits States are afforded substantially reduced oversight and maximum flexibility to implement their state programs and to achieve water quality objectives. Thus, although EPA greatly streamlined the section 319 grants program for all states, it also provided further flexibility to the Nonpoint Source Enhanced Benefits States with complete programs and proven track records.
The nine key elements that form the core of the states' upgraded nonpoint source management programs are the following:
All states and territories will have approved, upgraded nonpoint source management programs by the end of 2001.
- Short- and long-term goals and objectives.
- Strong working partnerships with all key stakeholders.
- Balanced approach emphasizing statewide and watershed-level programs.
- Plans to abate known impairments and prevent significant threats to water quality.
- Identifying and progressively addressing impaired or threatened waters.
- Establishing flexible, targeted, iterative approaches.
- Identifying federal programs that are not consistent with state programs.
- Efficient and effective program management and implementation.
- Periodic review and evaluation of program success at least every 5 years.
Responsibility and funding for the 319 Program
EPA is divided into 10 regions, with offices in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Denver, San Francisco, and Seattle. Each EPA region has a Nonpoint Source Coordinator, who is familiar with the nonpoint source programs in each of the states, territories, and tribes in that region and the 319 funding process that supports them. In turn, each state has a designated Nonpoint Source Coordinator responsible for managing the state's nonpoint source activities and funds. For specific EPA regional and state NPS Coordinators, see EPA's web site at www.epa.gov/owow/nps/contacts.html. In most states, this Coordinator is located in the state's water quality agency. In several states, however, the NPS Coordinator is located in the state's conservation agency, health agency, or agricultural agency. Increasingly, decisions about funding and program priorities are made by a broad-based NPS Task Force representing not only state agencies but also other stakeholders at the state and local levels.
EPA awards grants to states using an allocation formula based on population, cropland acreage, critical aquatic habitats, pasture and rangeland acreage, forest harvest acreage, wellhead protection areas, mining, and pesticide use to determine the amount to be awarded to each state. Each year, the congressional appropriation for section 319 is multiplied by the applicable percentage based on the formula to determine each state's allocation for that year. Each state or tribe is required to provide a 40 percent nonfederal dollar match.
Nonpoint source pollution occurs when rainfall, snowmelt, or irrigation water runs over land or through the ground, picks up pollutants and deposits them into rivers, lakes, and coastal waters or introduces them into groundwater.
From FY 1990 through 2001, EPA awarded an aggregate of more than $1.3 billion to states and territories under section 319. Funds available for grants in FY 2001 alone have increased to more than $237 million, which is nearly double the FY 1998 appropriation. A small portion of the annual section 319 appropriation, one-third of 1 percent, is by statute set aside for Indian tribes. In FY 2000 and FY 2001, Congress authorized EPA to award grants to Indian tribes under section 319 in an amount that exceeds the statutory cap, recognizing that the tribes need and deserve increased financial support to implement their nonpoint source programs. EPA's long-term goal is that the one-third of 1 percent cap on tribal nonpoint source grants will be permanently eliminated.
Nonpoint source pollution is the main reason that approximately 40 percent of surveyed rivers, lakes, and estuaries are not clean enough for fishing or swimming.
Future of nonpoint source programs
With all state 319 programs upgraded by the end of 2001, EPA and ASIWPCA have established a new state/EPA Nonpoint Source Management Partnership to support states in the implementation of their upgraded programs. The partnership consists of a state/EPA Steering Committee and seven workgroups to help identify and solve states' highest-priority nonpoint source needs. The seven workgroups cover issues relating to
This new partnership provides an excellent framework for the states and EPA to work together cooperatively to identify, prioritize, and solve nonpoint source problems. For more detailed information on particular workgroup activities, see EPA's web site at www.epa.gov/owow/nps/partnership.html.
- Watershed planning and implementation.
- Rural nonpoint sources.
- Urban nonpoint sources.
- Nonpoint source grants management.
- Nonpoint source capacity building and funding.
- Information transfer and outreach.
- Documenting nonpoint source results.
Many of the projects contained in Success Stories: Volume III directly address the Clean Water Act's goal of achieving water quality standards by restoring and maintaining the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation's waters. The "state-by-state showcase" stories primarily demonstrate water quality improvements, a return to water quality standards, or other objective evidence of improvement in the water or in the habitat associated with the water. Many of the stories also document specific pollutant reductions or other measurable improvements attributed to the 319 project, such as increased shade for temperature-impaired waters and improved streamside habitat. The stories highlight the range of best management practices, training programs, and other activities implemented to achieve these successes, as well as the funding sources and other partners that contributed to the successful project.
Although stories contained in Success Stories: Volume III emphasize "on-the-ground" projects to solve nonpoint source problems, many states also have created special programs and authorities to prevent nonpoint source problems. Interested readers should refer to two research studies published by the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) for general background on state authorities to address nonpoint source pollutionEnforceable State Mechanisms for the Control of Nonpoint Source Water Pollution (1997) and Almanac of Enforceable State Laws to Control Nonpoint Source Water Pollution (1998). Of special interest is an ELI study on how eight states in particular are using a combination of authorities and on-the-ground programs to achieve their nonpoint source goals of both remediation and protection (see Putting the Pieces Together: State Nonpoint Source Enforceable Mechanisms in Context ). More details about ELI's research studies can be found on EPA's web site at www.epa.gov/owow/nps/pubs.html.
Four "special feature" sections are also included in this document, highlighting especially innovative state programs, information and education programs, state funding programs, and tribal 319 projects.
For more information
The stories in this document are abbreviated, nontechnical reviews that reflect only a small portion of each project's larger purposes. For further information on a particular project, call the state or local contact listed with the story. You may also contact EPA Headquarters' Nonpoint Source Control Branch at 202-566-1203 or find EPA on the Internet at www.epa.gov/owow/nps.