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District of Columbia Contact

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Vision: The Bureau of Environmental Quality's Watershed Protection Division has a vision. The Nonpoint Source Management Program envisions Washington, DC, as an innovator in the prevention and control of nonpoint source pollution in an urban setting. The Program sees itself as a leader in protecting the city's neighborhoods and watersheds from nonpoint source pollution, safeguarding the water and soil resources of the city, as well as the health, welfare, and safety of those using those resources. It also sees itself as a partner with other government agencies, citizens, and private industry by increasing stakeholder awareness and involvement in the clean-up efforts in the Anacostia River, Chesapeake Bay, and other local waterways and equipping city residents with the knowledge and tools on how to prevent nonpoint source pollution to their neighborhood streams.

The District of Columbia Department of Health, Environmental Health Administration's Nonpoint Source Management Plan describes the District of Columbia's strategy for managing nonpoint source pollution throughout the city. It provides a strategy on restoring and protecting the District's waters and watersheds. The plan covers the categories of urban runoff, construction, hydrologic/habitat modification, and solid waste disposal.

The plan was developed with the Environmental Health Administration's goal of preventing and controlling environmentally related disease and protecting and preserving the ecology of the city. With the assistance and cooperation of the citizens; their public and private stakeholders; and their local, regional and federal government partners the vision of fishable and swimmable waterways can be a reality.

Goals: The Nonpoint Source Management Plan is based on the following long-term goals (10 to 25 years). These goals provide the framework for the District to continue to build upon a successful Nonpoint Source (NPS) Management Program.

  • Support activities that reduce pollutant loads from urban runoff, construction activity, combined sewer overflows, and trash disposal, for the purpose of attaining present designated uses by 2015 and future designated uses by 2025.
  • Support programs and activities that strive to restore and maintain healthy habitat, species diversity, and water flows to all of the tributaries of the Anacostia River by 2015, and to all surface waters of the District of Columbia by 2025, by restoring degraded systems and preserving healthy and threatened ones.
  • Coordinate NPS Management Program efforts with other District, federal and private sector programs, and adjoining jurisdictions to provide the best delivery of services to prevent and control nonpoint source pollution in the District of Columbia with the resources available.
  • Support programs that aim to prevent nonpoint source pollution from individuals actions, by carrying out effective information and education campaigns that reach at least 10,000 individuals each year to targeted audiences who live, work, teach, or visit in the District of Columbia and its watersheds. 
  • The District of Columbia uses a multi-pronged, watershed approach to tackle its nonpoint source pollution problems. It calls upon both regulatory and nonregulatory programs to treat polluted runoff and to minimize the amount of pollution generated. The District addresses nonpoint source control from an almost totally urban perspective because of the District's high percentage of imperviousness interspersed with tracks of federal and city parkland and densely packed residential lots. It targets the NPS categories of urban runoff, construction, and hydrologic/habitat modification as identified in the original USEPA NPS Management Plan Guidance. It also incorporates the Nine Key Elements developed by USEPA and ASWIPCA. The USEPA recognizes these elements as critical to a successful NPS management program. 

Additional information about the District of Columbia's NPS Management Program:


Urban Runoff

The 1998 D.C. 305(b) Report identified urban runoff as one of the major sources of impairment to District of Columbia waters. The report also indicates that practically all of the District’s waterbodies are impacted by urban runoff. Efforts to address this category of Nonpoint Source pollution have been on-going since 1989. With 63% of the District’s landscape being covered by impervious surfaces, the potential for loadings of a mixed bag of pollutants from this source is high.

Construction

In a city with very little room for new development, construction usually involves the redevelopment of abandoned lots, the replacement of old buildings with new buildings, or the rebuilding of roads. These activities can have a degrading effect on the waters of the District if they are not properly planned and inspected.

Hydrologic/Habitat Modification

Storm water can have a scouring effect on the small streams located throughout the city. In addition the pollutants carried by storm water can degrade the water quality of the streams. By changing the flow path, and increasing filtration of pollutants and nutrients, modifications to streams can have beneficial effect on the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers.

Storm Water Management

The discharge of untreated storm water constitutes a source of pollution to the waters of the District of Columbia as well as the Chesapeake Bay and is therefore, subject to local and federal regulations. Inadequate management of accelerated storm water runoff resulting from development throughout a watershed increases flood flows and velocities, contributes to erosion and sedimentation, overloads the transport capacity of streams and storm sewers, and transports in some instances significant quantities of nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) into the receiving water bodies. The runoff impairs water quality, damages woodlands and aquatic ecology in some cases, and threatens public health and safety. Recreational opportunities may also be reduced. The main focus of the District’s Storm Water Management Program, which was developed in response to the 1983 Chesapeake Bay and 1984 Anacostia Agreements, is to ensure through a regulatory mechanism that developers use either structural or nonstructural best management practices (BMPs) to control both the quantity and quality of storm water runoff from new development or retrofit projects. In order to accomplish the goal of the program, a Storm Water Management Guidebook was developed to provide design engineers, architects, developers and urban planners all the information needed to meet the requirements of the regulations.

Soil Erosion and Sediment Control

The District of Columbia’s Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Program implements and enforces D.C. Law 2-23 (D.C. Erosion and Sedimentation Control Act of 1977), which regulates all land-disturbing activities to prevent accelerated erosion and transport of sediment to its receiving waters. The program reviews and approves all construction and grading plans submitted to the District of Columbia Government for compliance with the regulations. Plans may call for the use of measures such as straw bale dikes, silt fences, brush barriers, mulches, sediment tanks or temporary sedimentation ponds, seeding or sodding, earth dikes, brickbats, stabilized construction entrances, vehicle wash racks, or a combination of measures to reduce the amount of soil washing away from construction sites during rainstorms. Inspections are conducted at construction sites to ensure that control devices are constructed in accordance with approved plans. In addition, the program is also responsible for investigating erosion, drainage and related complaints and providing recommendations towards their resolution. The sediment control program complements the water management program, therefore in an effort to meet the goals and objectives of the USEPA Chesapeake Bay Program, the District strengthened its sediment control law by enacting D.C. Law 10-166 (D.C. Erosion and Sedimentation Control Amendment Act of 1994) to specifically remove the exemption provision for sediment control compliance associated with construction activities by federal agencies. In addition to the regulations, the program developed a handbook that is distributed to engineers, architects and building contractors. The purpose of the handbook is to provide guidelines for the implementation of erosion and sediment control measures in accordance with the regulations. A second document containing standards and specifications is also disseminated to designers and provides a variety of measures to control sediment from construction activities.

Floodplain Management

Floodplain management is implemented through D.C. Law 1-64 (D.C. Applications Insurance Implementation Act of 1976). All development, including the storage of potential contaminants in the floodplain must comply with flood hazard regulations promulgated under the law. As part of the implementation process, construction plans for all new development or substantial improvements to existing structures in a floodplain are reviewed to ensure that the development is consistent with the need to minimize or eliminate flood damage. In addition, the program responds to citizens’ requests for floodplain information, and provides technical assistance to developers on floodplain management-related issues. Because federal and District laws and regulations require flood management projects to consider not only quantity control but also the impacts on the water quality of receiving waters, the District’s program coordinates most of its activities with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the District’s Office of Emergency Preparedness (DCOEP).

Compliance & Enforcement

The D.C. Storm Water Management Regulations, § 509 through 518 of D.C. Law 5-188, of the D.C. Water Pollution Control Act of 1984, authorizes the District to ensure that best management practices (BMPs) are used to control water runoff from new development and redevelopment projects. Additionally, all land disturbing activities are regulated under D.C. Law 2-23, the D.C. Erosion and Sedimentation Control Act of 1977 and D.C. Law 10-166, the D.C. Erosion and Sedimentation Control Amendment Act of 1994. The primarily function of the District’s Compliance and Enforcement Program is to enforce these laws and associated regulations.

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Delaware State Contact

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Vision: The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control envisions a Delaware that offers a healthy environment where people include a commitment to the protection, enhancement and enjoyment of the environment in their daily lives; where Delawareans’ stewardship of natural resources ensures the sustainability of these resources for the appreciation and enjoyment of future generations; and where people recognize that a healthy environment and a strong economy support one another.

Mission: The mission of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control is to ensure the wise management, conservation, and enhancement of the state’s natural resources, protect public health and the environment, provide quality outdoor recreation, improve the quality of life, and educate the public on historic, cultural, and natural resource use, requirements, and issues.

Goals: On November 29, 1999, Delaware’s Nonpoint Source Management Plan, Revision #4, was approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency in Region3. This Management Plan established important long-term goals to improve water quality and short-term actions to achieve those goals. Long-term goals included the following:

  1. The Nonpoint Source (NPS) Program will support the
    identification and quantification of those problems that are caused specifically by nonpoint source pollution through assessment updates.
  2. The NPS Program will be implemented and updated to realistically reduce nonpoint source pollution in a cost-effective manner. 
  3. The NPS Program will address nonpoint source pollution through a program that balances education, research, technical assistance, financial incentives, and regulation. 
  4. The NPS Program will follow a non-degradation policy in areas where surface and ground waters meet state water quality standards and a policy to realistically improve water quality in areas that do not meet these standards. 
  5. The NPS Program will continue to use the coordinated approach for implementation and maintain an open-ended framework to incorporate new initiatives and support interactive approaches based on the effectiveness of existing policies and implementation mechanisms. 
  6. The NPS Program will support the development and implementation of Watershed Restoration Action Strategies (WRAS) / Pollution Control Strategies (PCS) for watersheds of identified impaired or threatened waters in accordance with the Unified Watershed Assessment List. 

As result of water quality protection programs that are in place in Delaware, water quality in Delaware has remained fairly stable in spite of increasing development and population growth. Impacts to waters are generally the result of past practices or contamination events, activities that are not regulated nor otherwise managed, or changes that are occurring on a larger regional scale. For example, air pollutants from sources outside of Delaware’s surface waters via rainfall.

Although Delaware’s surface water quality may not have changed significantly over the last several years, there have been many improvements made in watershed assessment approaches and methodologies. Additionally, many water quality criteria are stricter as a result of amendments to the State’s Water Quality Standards. Therefore, they have become more proficient at identifying water quality problems and, at the same time, are calling for higher quality waters.

Additional information:

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Agriculture

Delaware’s Agriculture Category was first approved by the EPA in 1989. Since that time, the state has applied the general principles of education, research, assessment, and technical/financial assistance to preventing and reducing nonpoint source impacts from agricultural activities. In the past, Delaware’s program for implementing agricultural best management practices (BMPs) has been primarily voluntary. Technical and financial incentives have been provided to overcome any economic disadvantages created in this process. According to the Delaware Agricultural Statistics Service, Delaware has 2700 farms totaling 580,000 acres which accounts for 46 percent of Delaware’s land area. The USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service estimates that 170,000 acres (< 30%) are currently operating under a voluntary conservation plan. On average, an individual conservation planner in Delaware can complete comprehensive resource management plans on 6,000 acres per year. With eight Nonpoint Source 319 supported planners, Delaware estimates that within 10 years we will be able to complete plans on 480,000 acres including new and updated plans.

Delaware continues to provide funding for research and new technology. Program funds have

  1. advanced commercial scale composting as a means to achieving nutrient reduction,
  2. been used to develop new technology such as the "smart spreader",
  3. provided for additional research to better define the phosphorus and nitrogen concerns in the state, and
  4. assessed the role tax ditches play in generating and delivering nutrients to surface waters.

Delaware has initiated GIS tracking of agricultural Best Management Practices for Kent and Sussex Counties and is using PSNT (pre-sidedress N test) as an indicator of real time reduction of nitrogen use throughout the state.

Many of the "new" issues facing agriculture were outlined in Delaware’s 1995 NPS Management Plan and Assessment Report. Delaware’s experience continues to indicate a need to:

  1. implement conservation plans farm by farm;
  2. support demonstration of alternative uses and distribution of manures;
  3. support demonstration of new technologies;
  4. expand their efforts to education and participate in local and interstate initiatives; and
  5. support assessment activities to better define the science and refine assessment methods for linking BMP effectiveness to water quality improvement.

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Aquaculture

Interest in "Aquaculture", defined as the cultivation, production or marketing of any fish, aquatic invertebrate or aquatic plant that is spawned, produced or marketed as a cultivated crop in state waters, is on the increase in Delaware.

Over 800 - 1,000 citizens have contacted state government and educational institutions since early 1989 requesting information on the potential of aquacultural production. This overwhelming response to aquaculture is partly attributable to reports of increased commercial development nationwide and governmental involvement during the last several years. Many people view aquacultural production as a means of supplementing their income or diversifying their farm operation. Since 1995, interest in aquaculture has subsided to the point of being nonexistent in Delaware. The Nonpoint Source Program chose to leave this category in the Management Plan in the event that aquaculture resurfaces as a viable industry in the State of Delaware.

The Delaware Aquaculture Act was passed by the 135th General Assembly in June 1990 and was signed by Governor Castle the following month. This Law designated aquaculture as an agricultural activity and named the Department of Agriculture as the lead agency for promoting and coordinating aquaculture in Delaware. The legislation also authorized creation of the Aquaculture Advisory Council.

Natural areas that have potential in supporting aquaculture activity in Delaware can be subdivided into the subtidal zone (subaqueous bottom) and water column in coastal and nearshore areas, tidal waters, and upland locations that often include fresh and occasionally brackish waters. Examples include the Delaware Bay, tidal creeks, Inland Bays, or coastal lagoons (Rehoboth Bay, Indian River Bay and Little Assawoman Bay), and a variety of ponds, drainage ditches, and other marginal water-retaining areas on farms throughout the state.

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) has primary responsibility for the allocation and management of these public resources. The Development Advisory Service (DAS), comprising representatives from the DNREC, Division of Public Health, Division of Historic and Cultural Affairs, Department of Agriculture, Delaware Development Office, and other agencies, was established to provide information on federal, local, and state environmental permit requirements. Depending on the aquaculture project proposed, the DAS will advise applicants of all permit requirements, standards, and procedures and will refer them to the appropriate federal, state, and local agencies. The nature and extent of the environmental impacts of aquaculture depend largely on the location (water source and receiving body) and type of farms, as well as the production technologies utilized. Virtually every type of production system for fish and shellfish requires some containment device such as a pond, tank, raceway, tray, cage, or net. Production systems generally are classified as open, flow-through, or closed, based on the degree of water interchange between the system and the environment; and extensive or intensive based on the density or concentration at which fish or other species are grown and the extent to which environmental factors are externally controlled or managed. In an extensive system, such as crawfish stocked in a pond or drainage ditch, management is minimal and animals are maintained at low densities. Much or all of the food may come from natural sources with only supplemental feeding by the culturist. Intensive systems represent the other extreme, where animals are concentrated at very high densities and the culturist must supply all the organism’s food requirements through nutritionally complete feeds. Because of high stocking densities in these systems, water quality becomes critical and must be maintained either by large volumes of water flow (such as in open or flow-through systems) or by purifying and reusing the water (closed or recirculating system).

It is often difficult to determine the impact of aquaculture on the environment, as the observed consequences are in many cases the cumulative effect of several factors that disturb its natural state. Available data seem to indicate that the pollutive effects of aquaculture are comparatively small and highly localized. The effects of discharge of aquaculture effluents in receiving waters are mainly the increase of suspended solids and nutrients and the fall in dissolved oxygen content. Reduced concentrations of dissolved oxygen may contribute to increased concentrations of ammonia, nitrate, and phosphate in the water column. Algal blooms, especially of toxic species produced by high levels of nutrients, can cause environmental hazards including fish kills. These blooms also diminish the aesthetically pleasing attributes associated with living near fresh water

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Silviculture

Forest land accounts for approximately thirty percent, 360,000 acres, of Delaware's land area (USDA Forest Service, 1987), and these forests are distributed among numerous land ownership groups. Approximately 30,000 acres are publicly-owned, another 30,000 acres are managed by forest-based industries, while the remaining 300,000 acres are owned by private citizens and organizations (USDA Forest Service, 1996). Statewide, there are approximately 50,500 acres of privately-owned forest land certified as tree farms under the American Tree Farm System. These 227 tree farmers are recognized for their achievement and maintenance of excellence in forest management. The Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) Forest Service manages approximately 8,800 acres of the state's publicly-owned forest lands for various multiple use objectives, including wood production.

As evidenced above, the largest portion of Delaware’s forest landowners are private individuals and farmers. The long-term investments required for forest management activities range from approximately 40 to 90 years. For this reason and others, land use pressures are great on Delaware’s forests. Therefore, maintaining various types of incentives are needed to off-set these pressures and sustain the forest resource base.

With over 350,000 acres of forest lands, forestry remains an important factor to Delaware's environment and economy. Healthy forests provide a variety of benefits to all Delawareans. forests not only produce the many wood products which we use every day, but healthy forests also provide wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities, cleaner air, and cleaner water. To sustain healthy forests, professional forestry assistance is required. The DDA Forest Service, in cooperation with other professional foresters and natural resource professionals, works to help private landowners better manage their forests. For example, in addition to the publicly-owned lands, approximately 60,000 acres of forest land have received professional forestry assistance, including the 50,000 acres of tree farms. This assistance typically includes developing a forest management plan to help owners better achieve their goals for their forested property, as well as reforestation, timber stand improvement, and timber harvesting assistance.

Even though Delaware is quite small, silvicultural techniques vary across the State. In the Coastal Plain region of southern Delaware, many of the forests are managed for loblolly pine, while in the upper Coastal Plain and Piedmont areas of northern Delaware, the typical timber species are yellow-poplar and oak. Typical silvicultural techniques in southern Delaware include clearcutting, herbicide applications, and mechanical site preparation, while selection harvesting and timber stand improvement activities are more common in the hardwood forests of northern Delaware.

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Construction & Urban Runoff

There has been a statewide Sediment and Stormwater Program in place within the DNREC since 1991, administered locally throughout the State. At any given point in time, the number of active construction sites in substantial compliance with an approved Sediment and Stormwater Plan varies widely. With close to a thousand active construction sites currently underway, DNREC actively monitors the compliance to State regulations on a regular basis. However, they do not currently keep daily statistical data on the percentage of construction sites that are in compliance. Weekly field audits are performed with the local agencies in addition to a formal program evaluation every three years. Currently, Delaware estimates that 70-80% of construction sites are fully implementing Best Management Practices/Best Available Technology for runoff control, although they estimate that almost 100% of these active construction sites have an approved plan. The program objective is to increase implementation compliance to 100%.

Delaware continues to maintain a comprehensive and innovative strategy to minimize impacts from urban runoff to receiving waters. Every land disturbing activity over 5,000 square feet must submit a plan for stormwater management. Delaware’s stormwater BMPs include wet ponds, dry extended detention ponds, constructed wetlands, sand filtration systems, biofiltration and filtration practices. The percentage of land development projects utilizing a stormwater management practice could be in the 90% range. The State Sediment and Stormwater Program is in the midst of developing evaluation tools that will meet the needs of their State and Federal regulatory requirements. The Program is currently developing unique assessment tools for determining construction site compliance for erosion and sediment control.

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Land Disposal

This NPS Category addresses the land disposal of wastes that degrade the State's surface and ground waters. The subcategories specifically addressed under land disposal (PDF) (3 pp, 77K, About PDF) Exit EPA Click for Disclaimercategory include the following:

  1. #61 and #62 Land Application of Sludge and Wastewater (PDF) (2 pp, 58K, About PDF) Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer
  2. #63 Landfills (PDF) (4 pp, 130K, About PDF) Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer
  3. #65 On-Site Wastewater Systems (PDF) (5 pp, 84K, About PDF) Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer
  4. #66 Hazardous Wastes (PDF) (3 pp, 64K, About PDF) Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer

Specific information pertaining to each of the subcategories referenced above can be found in the individual sections in the NPS Management Plan. Each sub-category section contains a synopsis of the pollution problems and what is currently being done to address these concerns. Also, each sub-category contains a table that outlines the objectives/ milestones that management agencies will implement to reduce these sources of nonpoint source pollution. Please note: Subcategory #65 On-Site Wastewater Systems also contains a section which addresses the Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Pro-gram (6217), as it is the only subcategory under this category that is impacted by the 6217 EPA Guidance Document.

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Hydromodification

One form of hydromodification is channelization or channel modification. These terms (used interchangeably) describe river and stream channel engineering undertaken for the purpose of flood control, navigation, drainage improvement, and reduction of channel migration potential. Activities such as straightening, widening, deepening, or relocating existing stream channels and clearing or snagging operations fall into this category. These forms of hydromodifications typically result in more uniform channel cross sections, steeper stream gradients, and reduced average pool depths. The term flow alteration describes a category of hydromodification activities that result in either an increase or a decrease in the usual supply of fresh water to a stream, river, or estuary. Flow alterations include diversions, withdrawals, and impoundments. In rivers and streams, flow alteration can also result from undersized culverts, transportation embankments, tide gates, sluice gates, and weirs. Channel modification activities have deprived wetlands and estuarine shorelines of enriching sediments, changed the ability of natural systems to both absorb hydraulic energy and filter pollutants from surface waters, and caused interruptions in the different life stages of aquatic organisms (Sherwood et. al, 1990). Channel modification activities can also alter instream water temperature and sediment characteristics, as well as the rates and paths of sediment erosion, transport, and deposition. A frequent result of channelization and channel modification activities is a diminished suitability of instream and riparian habitat for fish and wildlife. Hardening of banks along waterways has eliminated instream and riparian habitat, decreased the quantity of organic matter entering aquatic systems, and increased the movement of nonpoint source pollutants from the upper reaches of watersheds into coastal waters. Channel modification projects undertaken in streams or rivers to straighten, enlarge, or relocate the channel usually require regularly scheduled maintenance activities to preserve and maintain completed projects. These maintenance activities may also result in a continual disturbance of instream and riparian habitat. In some cases, there can be substantial displacement of instream habitat due to the magnitude of the changes in surface water quality, morphology and composition of the channel, stream hydraulics, and hydrology. Excavation projects can result in reduced flushing, lowered dissolved oxygen levels, saltwater intrusion, loss of streamside vegetation, accelerated discharge of pollutants, and changed physical and chemical characteristics of bottom sediments in surface waters surrounding channelization or channel modification projects. Reduced flushing, in particular, can increase the deposition of finer grained sediments and associated organic materials or other pollutants. The resulting changes to the distribution, amount, and timing of flows caused by flow alterations can affect a wide variety of living resources. Where tidal flow restrictors cause impoundments, there may be a loss of streamside vegetation, disruption of riparian habitat, changes in the historic plant and animal communities, and decline in sediment quality. Restricted flows can impede the movement of fish or crustaceans. Flow alteration can reduce the level of tidal flushing and the exchange rate for surface waters within coastal embayments, with resulting impacts on the quality of surface waters and on the rates and paths of sediment transport and deposition. For the purposes of this plan, the Hydrologic/Habitat Modification Category has been broken down into the following subcategory sources:

  1. #71 Channelization and #74 Flow Regulation/Modification
  2. #72 Dredging, and
  3. #77 Streambank Modification/Destabilization

Specific information pertaining to each of the subcategories referenced above can be found in the individual sections in the NPS Management Plan.

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Other Sources

This Nonpoint Source category addresses the "other" sources of pollutants that impact the State’s surface and ground waters. These subcategories include the following:

  1. #81 Atmospheric Deposition;
  2. #82 Waste Storage/Storage Tanks;
  3. #83 Highway Maintenance and Runoff;
  4. #84 Spills;
  5. #85 In-Place Contaminants;
  6. #86 Natural; and
  7. A Subcategory on Marinas (this has no assigned EPA Subcategory #).

Since the adoption of Delaware’s Nonpoint Source Management Program in 1988, many new initiatives have been implemented and program expansion has occurred. Specific information pertaining to each of the subcategories referenced above is contained in the NPS Management Plan. Each subcategory section contains a synopsis of the pollutant problems and what is currently being done to address these concerns. Also, each subcategory contains a table that outlines the milestones or objectives that management agencies will implement to reduce these sources of nonpoint source pollution. Please note: the Subcategories on Highway Maintenance and Marinas also contain a section which addresses the Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program (6217), as these two are the only subcategories under this category that are impacted by the 6217 EPA Guidance Document.

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Maryland State Contact

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Vision: The vision for Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources is to implement dynamic and effective nonpoint source pollution control programs. These programs are designed to achieve and maintain beneficial uses of water; improve and protect habitat for living resources; and protect public health through a mixture of water quality and/or technology based programs; regulatory and/or non-regulatory programs; and financial, technical, and educational assistance programs.

In December 1999, Maryland’s Nonpoint Source Management Program was approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency in Region 3. This management program is a comprehensive guide to the State’s nonpoint source pollution problems, its pollution control programs, and future steps aimed to control and prevent nonpoint source pollution. The long-term goals included the following:

  1. Meet 100% of designated uses in all waters in the State
  2. Ensure Adequate Protection and Restoration of Maryland’s Wetland Resources
  3. Protect and Maintain Maryland’s Natural Resource Land Base and Encourage Smart Growth
  4. Prevent Degradation of Tidal Aquatic Systems and Restore Impaired Systems
  5. Prevent Non-Tidal Aquatic System Degradation, Fragmentation, or Isolation and Restore Impaired Systems
  6. Promote Pollution Prevention
  7. Assure the Efficient and Effective Operation of the State’s Environmental Programs

Maryland has done a great deal in developing programs that deal effectively with nonpoint source (NPS) pollution. Some of these innovative programs include:

  • The Department of Natural Resource’s Stream ReLeaf Program. The Program provides incentives to landowners to plant riparian forest buffers. The Chesapeake Bay Program has a goal of creating 2,010 miles of buffers by 2010. Maryland is working to create 600 miles of buffer.
  • The Department of Natural Resource’s Clean Marinas Program. The Program assists marina operators to voluntarily implement practices to protect Maryland waterways.
  • Maryland’s Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program. The Program, administered in conjunction with the federal Conservation Reserve Program, provides bonus incentives to landowners to take sensitive lands out of production and restore wetlands and/or plant riparian buffers on agricultural lands. 

In addition to programs that control nonpoint source pollution, Maryland has a variety of watershed initiatives that aim to improve the water quality of streams, rivers and lakes. Major watershed initiatives include the Chesapeake Bay Program, the Anacostia River Initiative, the Coastal Bays Program, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin, and the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Program. The State also has numerous projects that target specific watersheds. These projects address the same nonpoint source issues that the NPS programs address. Examples of watershed specific projects include the Anacostia River (Northwest Branch and Town Park Stream), Roland Run & Redhouse Run, Deep Creek Lake and Rock & Carroll Creek.

Additional Information:


Agriculture

Maryland agriculture is as diverse as its people. As the state has grown in population, production of traditional commodities such as dairy, grain, and livestock has diversified to take advantage of market proximity. Poultry, tree nurseries, turf production, fresh fruits and vegetables, and racing and pleasure horse industries are now important to Maryland’s agricultural economy. In 1996, approximately 37 percent of Maryland’s land was used for agricultural purposes. The agriculture industry contributes more than $11 billion in revenue annually, making it the state’s largest commercial industry. With the size of this industry comes the responsibility to farm not only economically but environmentally as well. According to the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Phase IV Watershed Model and Maryland’s Integrated Watershed Analysis and Management System (IWAMS), nonpoint source pollution from agriculture is responsible for 38 percent of the total nitrogen and 55 percent of the total phosphorus entering the bay.

Pursuant to CZARA Section 6217, the agricultural community is currently working to implement the seven agricultural management measures that were developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). These management measures are defined as economically achievable measures for the control of the addition of pollutants from existing and new categories and classes of nonpoint sources of pollution, which reflect the greatest degree of pollutant reduction achievable through the application of the best available nonpoint pollution control practices, technologies, processes, siting criteria, operating methods, or other alternatives. Specific information describing how Maryland is addressing these management measures can be found in the Nonpoint Source (NPS) Management Plan. To address nonpoint source pollution, Maryland has numerous agricultural water quality programs and recently passed the most comprehensive farm nutrient control legislation in the country--the Water Quality Improvement Act of 1998.

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Forestry

Forests are widely recognized as one of the land uses that provides the greatest protection for water quality and aquatic and wildlife habitat. As such, efforts to restore and conserve forests are an important part of nonpoint source pollution control. Today, forests cover about 2.7 million acres of Maryland representing 40 percent of the state’s total land area. Of this total, 2.4 million acres (90 percent) are classified as timberland. Timberland is defined as land growing at least 20 cubic feet (or the equivalent of twenty-four 2"x4"x8' framing studs) of wood on every acre each year with the potential of harvesting it. Examples of areas not classified as timberland include federal and state park land, Christmas tree farms, and forest set aside for scientific study. Maryland’s forests make a very direct and visible contribution to their economy. Every year, Maryland households spend over $454,000,000 on the many products produced from trees. Furniture alone accounts $170,000,000. Wages and salaries of individuals involved in the manufacture of goods and services in the wood industry amount to $327,840,000 annually. Indirect business taxes add up to $21,314,000 each year. The pulp and paper products industry alone employs 9300 people across the state.

As Maryland’s population continues to grow and creates the need for additional development, Maryland will continue losing forest. Projections by the Maryland Office of Planning estimate that between 1990 and 2015, the area dominated by urban development will increase to 1.5 million acres. However, large-scale conversion of forests to developed land is not the only threat to Maryland’s forests. Fragmentation, insects, disease, and exotic invasive plants, along with remote factors such as air pollution and acid deposition, have impacted the health of Maryland’s forests. Although most of the deforested (i.e.-developed) lands will never return to their pristine forested condition, the preservation, conservation, and wise management of Maryland’s remaining forests is vital for watershed health and renewable resources.

Forest health is inextricably linked to healthy streams and a robust Chesapeake Bay. Forests function as filters removing sediments, nutrients and other pollutants from water before they enter the groundwater system and receiving streams. Nutrients, for example, in normal quantities help maintain a healthy bay. The influx of excessive nutrients to the bay caused in part by changes in land use, however, has disrupted the Bay’s ecosystem. Forests also regulate the amount, velocity, and rate of runoff maintaining a water body’s natural hydrology. Forested riparian buffers along streams and rivers stabilize banks, reducing erosion and sedimentation. These riparian buffers also enhance aquatic habitat by shading streams, providing woody debris for in-stream structure, and regulating stream temperature. Protecting Maryland’s forest resources will greatly contribute to nonpoint source pollution reductions. Pursuant to CZARA Section 6217, Maryland state agencies and local governments are working to implement the ten management measures that were developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). These management measures are defined as economically achievable measures for the control of the addition of pollutants from existing and new categories and classes of nonpoint sources of pollution, which reflect the greatest degree of pollutant reduction achievable through the application of the best available nonpoint pollution control practices, technologies, processes, siting criteria, operating methods, or other alternatives. Specific information describing how Maryland is addressing these management measures can be found in the Nonpoint Source (NPS) Management Plan.

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Developed Lands

Nonpoint source pollution is runoff caused by rainfall, snowmelt, and irrigation water that moves over the ground and through the groundwater, picking up pollutants such as nutrients, sediments, toxics, and bacteria and eventually depositing them in streams, lakes, rivers, and bays. One major source of nonpoint source pollution in Maryland is developed lands. According to the Chesapeake Bay Program’s (CBP) Phase IV Model and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Integrated Watershed Analysis and Management System (IWAMS), 13 percent of the nitrogen and 12 percent of the phosphorus entering the Chesapeake Bay comes from developed lands. Because of the inevitable increase in urban areas around the state, it is critical to control nonpoint source pollution from this source. Maryland has several urban nonpoint source control programs that focus on new development, redevelopment, and new and relocated highways, bridges, and roads. Urban development has an profound influence on the quality of Maryland’s water. To start, development dramatically alters the local hydrologic cycle. The hydrology of a site changes during the initial clearing and grading that occur during construction. Trees, meadow grasses, and agricultural crops that had intercepted and absorbed rainfall are removed and natural depressions that had temporarily ponded water are graded to a uniform slope. Cleared and graded sites erode, are often severely compacted, and can no longer prevent rainfall from being rapidly converted into stormwater runoff. The situation worsens after construction. Roof tops, roads, parking lots, driveways and other impervious surfaces no longer allow rainfall to soak into the ground. Consequently, most rainfall is converted directly to stormwater runoff. The volume of stormwater runoff increases sharply as a function of site imperviousness. For example, a one acre parking lot can produce 16 times more stormwater runoff than a one acre meadow each year. The increase in stormwater runoff can be too much for the existing natural drainage system to handle. As a result, the natural drainage system is often "improved" to rapidly collect runoff and quickly convey it away (using curb and gutter, enclosed storm sewers, and lined channels). The stormwater runoff is subsequently discharged to downstream waters such as streams, reservoirs, lakes or estuaries. Pursuant to CZARA Section 6217, the Maryland Department of the Environment and DNR are currently working to implement the thirteen management measures that were developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). These management measures are defined as economically achievable measures for the control of the addition of pollutants from existing and new categories and classes of nonpoint sources of pollution, which reflect the greatest degree of pollutant reduction achievable through the application of the best available nonpoint pollution control practices, technologies, processes, siting criteria, operating methods, or other alternatives. Specific information describing how Maryland is addressing these management measures can be found in the Nonpoint Source (NPS) Management Plan.

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Marinas and Recreational Boating

With more than 17,000 miles of streams and rivers flowing into the Chesapeake Bay and 33 lakes with boating access, Maryland has abundant opportunities for fresh or saltwater recreation. Since boating is such a popular past time in Maryland, the state has a wide variety of programs to handle marina and recreational boating issues. Pursuant to CZARA Section 6217, the Department of Natural Resources is currently working to implement the fifteen management measures that were developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). These management measures are defined as economically achievable measures for the control of the addition of pollutants from existing and new categories and classes of nonpoint sources of pollution, which reflect the greatest degree of pollutant reduction achievable through the application of the best available nonpoint pollution control practices, technologies, processes, siting criteria, operating methods, or other alternatives. Specific information describing how Maryland is addressing these management measures can be found in the Nonpoint Source (NPS) Management Plan.

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Hydromodification

Within Maryland, there is a network of over 14,000 miles of streams and rivers flowing to the Chesapeake Bay, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Mississippi River. However, Maryland’s waterways are much more than just channels that convey water. Water resources play a major role in the everyday life of people. Commercial fisheries, electricity from hydroelectric dams, fresh water for drinking, fishing, and boating are just a few of the benefits provided by water. Despite the direct link between the ecological health of the water and its economic benefits, traditional water resource management has generally failed to treat waterways and water bodies as natural systems. They have been managed with the supposition that they are unchanging and static. Yet they do change and the balance of these systems hinges on that natural variability. Human activities, such as channelization, building of levees, dams, and diversions, and floodplain development, disrupt the natural hydrologic regime of the system and result in a widespread deterioration of environmental quality. The protection of Maryland’s streams through proper management is critical to the maintenance of Maryland’s natural resources and quality of life. Presently, Maryland manages streams at the watershed level and focuses on the source or causes of stream stability problems, such as excessive stormwater runoff, rather than the symptoms of the problem, such as streambank erosion. Current management approaches at the watershed level, focus on the modification of watershed hydrology to replicate (to the degree possible) the hydrology in undisturbed forested watersheds where stream channels have a greater potential to be stable because the magnitude and frequencies of peak storm discharges are reduced. Historical approaches to stormwater management in Maryland have focused on the control of the 2-year and 10-year dischargers using large ponds to temporarily store surface runoff, so the water can be discharged over an extended duration. There are many different types of impacts related to hydromodification activities for a more comprehensive discussion on hydromodification impacts please refer to Chapter IV - Developed Lands. Pursuant to CZARA Section 6217, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Department of the Environment (MDE), and the Department of Agriculture (MDA), are currently working to implement the six management measures that were developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). These management measures are defined as economically achievable measures for the control of the addition of pollutants from existing and new categories and classes of nonpoint sources of pollution, which reflect the greatest degree of pollutant reduction achievable through the application of the best available nonpoint pollution control practices, technologies, processes, siting criteria, operating methods, or other alternatives. Specific information describing how Maryland is addressing these management measures can be found in the Nonpoint Source (NPS) Management Plan.

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Wetlands

Wetlands are an integral part of what makes the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem unique and of special significance to the citizens of Maryland. Wetlands are generally recognized as lands that are wet for significant periods during the year that typically create anaerobic (low oxygen) conditions favoring the growth of hydrophytic plants and the formation of hydric soils. These areas are commonly called marshes, swamps, and bogs, although other terms are locally applied (e.g., Delmarva Bays). Wetlands may be permanently flooded by shallow water, permanently saturated by groundwater, or periodically inundated or saturated for varying periods during the growing season in most years. Many wetlands are the periodically flooded lands that occur between uplands and salt or fresh water bodies (e.g., lakes, rivers, streams, and estuaries). Other wetlands, however, may be isolated from such water bodies. These wetlands are located in areas with seasonally high water tables that are surrounded by upland. Wetlands are important natural resources providing numerous values to society, including fish and wildlife habitat, flood protection, erosion control, and water quality maintenance. A variety of wetlands exist in Maryland, however two basic types of wetlands are commonly recognized: nontidal wetlands and tidal wetlands. Nontidal wetlands found in Maryland are most commonly inland freshwater areas not subject to tidal influence. Tidal wetlands are associated with daily fluctuations of water levels driven by the ocean tides. In Maryland, tidal wetlands are typically found along the ocean coast, in the Chesapeake Bay estuary, and along the tidal reaches of streams and rivers flowing into the ocean and bay. Prior to colonization of Maryland it is believed that there may have existed as much as 1.2 million acres of wetlands in Maryland. Extensive conversion of wetlands to other uses has occurred since Maryland’s settlement in the 1600s. Wetlands have been drained and leveled for crop production, and filled for residential housing, commercial and industrial development, and highways. While Maryland may have lost 45-65 percent of its original wetlands, wetlands remain quite abundant. About 10 percent of the state is wetland, with wetlands more widespread on the coastal plain (e.g., Eastern shore) where 16 percent of the land area is occupied by wetlands. Many of the lost wetlands are on farmland that may be suitable for restoration. There are approximately 275,000 acres of vegetated nontidal wetlands in Maryland. Nontidal wetlands help protect the Chesapeake Bay and streams by filtering phosphorous, nitrogen, and other pollutants from upland runoff. They form natural flood conveyance areas able to store floodwaters and slowly release them downstream to replenish groundwater supplies. Wetland vegetation has complex and extensive root systems which stabilize streambanks, reduce the velocity of sediment laden water, and trap sediment. Many rare and unique plants some of which are endangered species are limited to wetlands. Over 200,000 acres of vegetated tidal wetlands are found in Maryland's Coastal Zone. They range from the saline emergent marshes found in the seaside Bays adjacent to Ocean City and Assateague Island to the tidal fresh scrub-shrub and forested wetlands found near the heads of tide of the tributaries to the Chesapeake Bay. They play a key role in Maryland's estuarine environment, providing valuable habitats for many birds, plants, and animals. Wetlands provide vital food and habitat for finfish, shellfish, crustaceans, waterfowl, and mammals such as foxes, raccoons, deer, muskrats, nutria, and otter. Tidal wetlands also help protect water quality by absorbing nonpoint source pollutants and by reducing sediment loads to receiving waters. They also inhibit flooding and provide shore erosion control by dissipating the energy of flood waters and wave action and by stabilizing near shore bottoms. Given the current status of Maryland’s wetlands relative to their historical acreage and the wealth of values they provide, it would seem imperative that the remaining wetlands should be conserved. Yet most of these wetlands are not on public property, and therefore, may be subjected to alternative uses. Techniques and procedures for protecting the remaining wetlands are numerous and include land-use regulation, direct acquisition, and the efforts of private individuals and corporations. Pursuant to CZARA Section 6217, MDE and DNR are currently working to implement the three management measures that were developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). These management measures are defined as economically achievable measures for the control of the addition of pollutants from existing and new categories and classes of nonpoint sources of pollution, which reflect the greatest degree of pollutant reduction achievable through the application of the best available nonpoint pollution control practices, technologies, processes, siting criteria, operating methods, or other alternatives. Specific information describing how Maryland is addressing these management measures can be found in the Nonpoint Source (NPS) Management Plan.

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Septic Systems

The cumulative impact of septic systems, or on-site sewage disposal systems (OSDS), on water quality is becoming a major concern in Maryland. Compared with Maryland’s nationally recognized efforts to address discharges from wastewater treatment plants and agricultural lands, septic system discharges have received little attention. Management practices and policies are needed to reduce OSDS nutrient impacts and to ensure that public health, the health of the environment, and the overall quality of life in Maryland is protected. It is acknowledged that, despite some uncertainties associated with their impacts, OSDS are discharging nitrogen to groundwater that will ultimately reach tidal waters, and which poses immediate potential threats to drinking water in some areas. Property owner involvement in maintaining OSDS is critical. Focusing homeowners’ interest and providing timely and continued education in proper maintenance of OSDS is crucial. It is in the interest of all people in Maryland that OSDS nutrient loading to the environment be minimized to the greatest extent possible. It is the State’s obligation to ensure that public health, the health of the environment, and overall quality of life is protected. Statewide, there are over 400,000 OSDS, serving one in five Maryland households. Most of these are conventional OSDS, which are designed to remove solids and pathogens from wastewater in order to protect public health. Some systems, however, are not functioning properly due to age, neglect in operation and maintenance, or improper siting and installation. With an estimated failure rate of 1 to 5 percent each year, and thousands of new conventional systems being installed each year, the human health and water quality threat from OSDS becomes significant. The US Environmental Protection Agency reports that OSDS effluent is frequently cited as a source of drinking water contamination nationwide. Septic system effluent is also high in nitrogen, a significant threat to the Chesapeake and Coastal Bays, other tidal waters, and reservoirs. By today’s standards, past siting and installation practices provide inadequate treatment. New technologies are now available, and standards are needed to improve the quality of effluent being discharged. The Chesapeake Bay Program, using census data and standardized estimates of nutrient loading, estimates that 7.7 million pounds of nitrogen enter the Chesapeake Bay from OSDS each year. This represented about 6 percent of Maryland’s nitrogen load in 1996. According to these estimates, OSDS loadings in Maryland’s tributary basins range from 3 percent in the Choptank and Lower Eastern Shore to 19 percent in the Lower Western Shore. Failing OSDS pose an additional set of threats to water quality. The average life of a septic system is 12 to 20 years, and many older systems are no longer functioning properly. Lack of maintenance and improper installation often contribute to early septic system failure. When OSDS become clogged, they block the flow of discharge to the drain fields. Raw sewage backs up onto the surface of a yard or into a home, posing a direct threat to public health, as well as to surface and groundwater. Maryland conducts a biennial needs survey of local governments to identify areas with failing OSDS. Where extensive areas of OSDS failure are identified, projects are funded to provide connections to central sewer systems. Through the Water Quality Financing Administration Linked Deposit Program, financing is available for projects that repair or replace failing or failed OSDS. Under this program, private property owners may borrow funds from private lending institutions located in their neighborhoods to finance projects to control nonpoint source pollution. These loans may be used for design and construction of a wide variety of water quality improvements to protect groundwater and surface water from nonpoint source pollution, including leaking underground storage tanks and failed septic systems. Pursuant to CZARA Section 6217, the Department of the Environment is currently working to implement the two management measures that were developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). These management measures are defined as economically achievable measures for the control of the addition of pollutants from existing and new categories and classes of nonpoint sources of pollution, which reflect the greatest degree of pollutant reduction achievable through the application of the best available nonpoint pollution control practices, technologies, processes, siting criteria, operating methods, or other alternatives.

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Mining

Coal mining in Western Maryland began in the early 1800's with small deep mines which operated to accommodate local fuel needs. By 1820, mining became commercially important with several mines operating in Eckhart, Frostburg, and Vale Summit (Allegany County). During peak production years between 1900 and 1918, deep mines in a two-county region produced between four and five million tons annually. Most of these mines were developed in a manner which utilized gravity drainage, to avoid excessive water accumulation in the mines. As a result, water polluted by acid, iron, sulfur and aluminum drained away from the mines and into streams. This type of pollution, acid mine drainage, is Western Maryland’s most serious water pollution problem. It is not only an ecological concern to the state but an economic concern as well. Ecological damage due to acid mine drainage easily translates into economic loss for the state and local governments. A region impacted by acid mine drainage often has a decline in valued recreational fish species such as trout as well as a general decline in outdoor recreation and tourism along with contamination of groundwater drinking supplies. After World War II, deep mining activity declined and surface coal mining increased in Western Maryland. Surface mines operated without any reclamation laws until 1955, when minimal standards were enacted. In 1967 and 1969 there were major changes to Maryland’s Strip Mining Law. In 1972, Section 319 of the Clean Water Act identified acid mine drainage as a nonpoint source pollution problem. In 1977, the Federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) was passed, mandating minimum requirements for surface mining operations in all coal-producing states. The Federal Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program was created under this law to repair the environmental damages of mines inadequately restored or abandoned before the passage of the act. The law was intended give each state the principle role in implementing its own program primacy. Maryland gained primacy in 1982. Amendments to SMCRA and the Appalachian Clean Streams Initiative (1995) have elevated the significance of abandoned mines as a water quality problem as well as a human welfare and safety problem. Federal government funds through the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund and the Appalachian Clean Streams Initiative have started providing the support needed to address the acid mine drainage problem. As of May 1998, the Maryland Bureau of Mines had completed 98 abandoned mine reclamation projects in Allegany and Garrett counties, reclaiming approximately 1,430 acres of land at a cost of $26 million. In the Nonpoint Source (NPS) Management Plan is a complete description of Maryland’s Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program. Also described are the permitting programs for coal and non-coal surface mining, best management measures for coal mining operations and the practices Maryland has used to control and treat acid mine drainage. The Maryland Department of Environment’s (MDE) Bureau of Mines regulates active coal mining. As a result, active mines contribute relatively little to the acid mine drainage problem. Roughly 4.1 million tons of coal are presently mined in Garret and Allegany counties. Maryland has roughly 660 million tons of underground coal reserves and 86 million tons of surface coal reserves.

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Atmospheric Deposition

Atmospheric deposition is an important environmental concern in both Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay region. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Power Plant Research Program conducts ongoing research on the sources of atmospheric deposition and the impact of deposition on Maryland’s natural resources. Long recognized by scientists, atmospheric deposition is the process in which precipitation (rain, snow, fog), particles, aerosols, and gases move from the atmosphere to the earth's surface. Pollutants reaching the earth through precipitation or as dry deposition originate from several air pollution sources and can be harmful to the environment and public health. Acid deposition is the most widely recognized form of atmospheric deposition with well-known effects on lakes, streams, and forests. More recently, the atmospheric contribution of nutrients has received increasing attention, particularly as a source of excess nitrogen entering the Chesapeake Bay. In addition, atmospheric deposition may constitute a significant source of environmental contaminants such as trace metals and toxic organic compounds.

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Groundwater

Ground water remains an abundant natural resource that serves as a significant source of drinking water in Maryland. Ground water is also important as a source of baseflow water in the State’s rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay. Other major uses include agriculture and industry. About 31 percent of the State’s population use ground water as a drinking water supply. On the Eastern Shore the population using ground water can exceed 95 percent. About half of those using ground water obtain water from a well that they own, while the other half obtain their drinking water from public water supplies that use ground water. In addition to community ground water systems, there are about 3,238 Maryland facilities relying on ground water, which are defined by the Safe Drinking Water Act as non-community public water systems. These small facilities include schools, day care centers, places of work, restaurants, churches, community centers and campgrounds that have their own source of water. Geologic conditions vary widely across the State, and produce significant variations in the quantity and quality of ground water. Aquifers in Maryland fall into two major types – unconsolidated Coastal Plain aquifers found east of the Fall Line, and hard rock (consolidated sedimentary and crystalline) aquifers found in the western part of the State. The Coastal Plain aquifers, composed primarily of sand and gravel with layers of silt and clay, are productive, and generally of good quality. The availability of ground water in the western part of the State is low to moderate. Local conditions affect both the availability and the quality of ground water. Some areas have difficulty producing adequate supplies of water; others produce abundant supplies. While natural ground water quality is generally good, some areas may have hard water, and locally high iron levels may be present. In some instances, ground water may be directly influenced by surface water, presenting the risk of pathogen contamination. Maryland’s ground waters are generally of good quality and meet drinking water standards. Incidents of serious contamination are usually localized around specific sources, but in some areas of the State vulnerable geologic conditions and local land uses can combine to produce ground water quality reflecting anthropogenic influence. The most vulnerable areas of the State are the carbonate rock areas of Allegany, Washington, Fredrick, Carroll, and Baltimore counties, the unconfined coastal plain aquifers, the outcrop areas of major aquifers along the Baltimore-Washington corridor, and the hard rock aquifers of central and western Maryland. Potential contaminant sources include point sources such as landfills, underground storage tanks, surface impoundments and injection wells, spills, and improper storage of salt or other materials on bare ground. Nonpoint sources such as animal waste, onsite sewage disposal, application of nutrients and pesticides, urban runoff, land application of wastewater, and abandoned mines are a concern. Nonpoint sources often do not cause excessive contamination at specific well locations but often do represent the largest loadings of pollutants to ground water over large areas. Because ground water contributes a significant percentage of surface water flow, delivery and reduction of nutrients via ground water has become a significant issue for Maryland. A significant amount of sampling occurs at public water systems to determine if the water being supplied is in compliance with State and Federal drinking water standards. Sampling requirements depend on system type, system size, source type, system vulnerability and contaminant. Community ground water systems are subject to monitoring requirements for over 80 contaminants that have health-based standards or maximum contaminant levels. Forty-two other unregulated contaminants are also tested at these systems. Water supply systems often use ground water with little additional treatment. The most common treatment objectives to improve ground water quality, in descending order, are: pH adjustment, iron removal, corrosion control, inorganics removal, softening, particulate removal, organics removal, manganese removal, and radionuclide removal.

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Pennsylvania State Contact

On this page:

Mission: The Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) mission is to protect Pennsylvania’s air, land and water from pollution and to provide for the health and safety of its citizens through a cleaner environment. We will work as partners with individuals, organizations, governments and businesses to prevent pollution and restore our natural resources.

The DEP’s Bureau of Watershed Conservation’s Mission: The Bureau of Watershed Conservation is responsible for protecting water quality, ensuring public health and safety, and managing water resources, all on a watershed scale. Specific Bureau programs designed to achieve these objectives include monitoring and assessing surface water quality, developing water quality standards, controlling nonpoint source pollution, improving citizen volunteer monitoring programs, supporting local watershed groups, planning and coordinating water resource use, regulating the allocation of surface waters, managing excess storm water runoff, protecting coastal zone resources, and regulating above and underground storage tanks.

In October 1999, Pennsylvania’s Nonpoint Source Management Plan was approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency in Region 3. Pennsylvania’s Nonpoint Source Program, through partnerships with the citizens, agencies, and industries of the Commonwealth, works to achieve appropriate water quality standards and protect beneficial uses of all surface and groundwater. To do this, the Nonpoint Source (NPS) Management Program will be used as a tool to control, prevent and remediate NPS pollution. The long-term goals of the NPS Management Plan include:

  1. Conduct restoration activities on all agricultural,construction, land disposal, silvicultural and urban nonpoint source impacted streams, for the purpose of attaining designated uses, by the year 2015; and conduct necessary restoration activities on all abandoned mine and hydrologic/habitat modified
    impacted streams, for the purpose of attaining designated uses, by 2025.
  2. Achieve a 33 percent net gain in healthy, diverse,aquatic ecosystems by 2010, both by maintaining 1998 levels of such systems and by restoring degraded ones.
  3. Coordinate all watershed-based state and federal programs to deliver consistent policies and services,to local watershed protection and restoration efforts.
  4. Increase by 5 per year the number of local watershed groups statewide to develop and implement a comprehensive watershed plan to conserve, protect and restore beneficial uses of all surface and groundwater resources.
  5. Develop new and utilize existing sources of funding for remediation / restoration of pollution problems associated with NPS.
  6. By 2001, use Geographic Information System (GIS) technology to show stream assessments, locate Best Management Practices (BMP’s) installed and report and track environmental improvements. Use as an interface with other data to develop Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs).
  7. Rely on incentives, assistance and education, as well as, the existing regulatory programs to emphasize the conservation of existing resources in site design and avoidance and to comprehensively address NPS problems in watershed restoration plans.
  8. By 2001, develop or expand six nonpoint source education and outreach efforts. Incorporate public input into all phases of the program.
  9. Assure that cost-effective and reasonable Best Management Practices for nonpoint source pollutant control be achieved.
  10. By 2015, implement Pennsylvania’s 15-year program strategy for the Coastal Nonpoint Program.

The Division of Watershed Support develops and coordinates the state Nonpoint Source Program. This includes preparing and maintaining a statewide assessment of nonpoint source pollution,and implementing a statewide Nonpoint Source Management Program. The Nonpoint Source program's management plan provides a framework to allocate funds from an annual Clean Water Act Section 319 grant appropriation. Division staff manage a grant program that distributes funds for nonpoint source projects, prioritizes work to correct problems and demonstrates solutions in impaired watersheds. In addition, the division coordinates citizen volunteer water quality monitoring activities and provides watershed program support for local watershed groups and watershed projects.

Additional Information:

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Resource Extraction

Past practices of resource extraction and exploration are the major source of nonpoint source pollution to surface and groundwaters in Pennsylvania. Significant deposits of bituminous and anthracite coal, oil and gas occur within Pennsylvania. Coal is found in the western, northcentral and northeastern portions, and oil and gas deposits are concentrated in the western and northcentral portions of the Commonwealth. Environmental problems caused by past coal mining affect 45 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties and represent one-third of all the abandoned mine related problems in the United States. Mining related pollution is Pennsylvania’s largest contributor to nonpoint source (NPS) pollution. A total of 250,000 acres of land were left unreclaimed, causing over 5,500 miles of polluted streams and 2.6 billion cubic yards of coal refuse covering the landscape. Thousands of abandoned underground mines contain pools of water in passageways and voids which discharge water through their entryways. These underground mines are the worst potential sources of pollution from coal mining; the pools of water may continue to drain indefinitely. Water draining through abandoned coal refuse piles and unreclaimed surface mines also discharges into Pennsylvania waters. Mining related pollution is largely the result of historic mining practices, during which time few laws or regulations governed the way coal could be mined or refuse stored. Pennsylvania pioneered the adoption of laws regulating coal mining such as the Clean Streams Law of 1937, which was prompted by water quality problems from coal mining. The Federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) was signed into law in 1977. SMCRA was needed to prevent future coal mining from creating pollution problems and to authorize clean up of abandoned mine land problems from past mining. Because of these laws and regulations, more than 97 percent of surface mining operations permitted since 1992 have not caused water pollution.

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Agriculture

Agriculture is Pennsylvania’s number one industry. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture 1995-96 Statistical Summary, Pennsylvania ranks fourth in the Nation in milk production and number of dairy cows. Pennsylvania also has top rankings in: Mushroom Production (First), Total Poultry production (excluding broilers) (Fourth), Cattle production (Seventeenth), Calves (Fourth), Hogs (Thirteenth), Sheep (Seventeenth), Turkeys (Eighth), Tree Fruits (Fourth/Fifth). The approximately 51,000 farms in Pennsylvania represent a major economic force. These agricultural enterprises help feed the citizens of Pennsylvania, the United States and they also contribute quality agricultural products to world markets. There are 6.5 million acres of crops and hay producing lands in the state. These lands yield products valued at over $1.5 billion. In addition, Pennsylvania’s mushroom production contributes $274 million, dairy products contribute $1.5 billion, livestock $1.4 billion, egg production $265 million, broiler production $203 million and turkey production $92 million. These figures demonstrate how vital agriculture is to Pennsylvania’s economy. The nonpoint source impacts of agriculture on the environment are also a major concern to Pennsylvania. Recent studies have shown that 39 percent of all nonpoint source pollution in Pennsylvania comes from agricultural lands. Examples of nonpoint source problems associated with agriculture include: erosion and resulting sedimentation of waterways, improper manure and fertilizer management, improper manure storage and unintended effects of pesticides. Significant state and federal efforts have been made to reduce soil erosion, sedimentation of waterways and other agriculture-related nonpoint source problems. Pennsylvania has recently passed nutrient management legislation in the form of Act 6 of 1993. Cost-share programs have been developed to help support this legislation. Other state and federal program funds have been used to reduce nonpoint source pollution from agriculture.

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Construction/Urban Runoff

This nonpoint source pollution category encompasses two major subcategories, highway construction, and new land development that includes residential, industrial, commercial, institutional and recreational construction. Uncontrolled runoff from these construction sites can cause significant soil erosion and localized sediment pollution in streams and other water bodies. The Commonwealth has a well-established and nationally recognized Erosion and Sediment Pollution Control (E & SPC) Program. Pennsylvania’s E & SPC Program is administered by the Department and county conservation districts coordinated through a delegation of the Department’s authorities to county conservation districts. Joint responsibilities for program implementation include the processing and issuance of permits, complaint investigations, site inspections, compliance and enforcement. BMPs are reviewed for design and performance effectiveness through permit plan reviews and periodic site inspections at the construction site. Standards and criteria for minimizing erosion and preventing sediment pollution are contained within the Department’s Chapter 102 rules and regulations as authorized under the Clean Streams Law. These regulations apply to any earth disturbance activity including land development; and road, highway and bridge construction. Chapter 102 requires that an erosion and sediment pollution control plan be developed and implemented for earth disturbance activities. Each plan must specify the control measures and facilities (BMPs) that will be used to minimize erosion and prevent sediment pollution from the earth disturbance activity. The NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) Permit Program for Stormwater Discharges from Construction Activities integrates the Commonwealth’s Erosion Control requirements. Both the Department and county conservation districts facilitate implementation of BMPs by conducting numerous training seminars and workshops for persons, municipalities and other parties engaged in undertaking earth disturbance activities. The Department provides direct support, training and financial assistance to county conservation districts to maintain their proficiency and program involvement.

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Land Disposal

The Land Disposal category covers several major programs and potential nonpoint sources of pollution. Landfills, both municipal and industrial, active and abandoned, have the potential to cause significant degradation of surface and groundwater. The identification and clean up of hazardous waste sites is one of Pennsylvania’s top environmental priorities. These potential nonpoint sources of pollution are regulated through programs administered by the Bureau of Land Recycling and Waste Management (BLRWM). The land application of municipal biosolids, if properly carried out, offers significant nutrient reuse benefits. If not properly managed however, it can pose a nonpoint threat to surface waters. Pennsylvania ‘s many onlot sewage disposal systems are also potential sources of nonpoint pollution to groundwater. Programs regulating biosolids and onlot sewage systems are administered by the Bureau of Water Quality Protection (BWQP).

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Silviculture

The major nonpoint source pollution concern with silvicultural activities is soil erosion and sediment loading to surface water from timber harvesting and road construction. Best management practices (BMPs) have been used to reduce the effects of such problems. Chapter 102 of the Department’s rules and regulations requires that an erosion and sediment pollution control plan be developed for every earth disturbance activity. Implementation of program activities are shared by DEP and county conservation districts, including the processing and issuance of earth disturbance permits, complaint handling, site inspections and compliance activities.

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Hydrologic/Habitat Modifications

Indirect changes in hydrology that result in nonpoint pollution include: changing land uses, increasing impervious surface areas, lack of stormwater management, lack of floodplain management, unlimited livestock access to streams and removal of riparian vegetation. Hydrologic modification such as channelization, dredging, dam construction, bridge construction and any encroachment into a body of water or watercourse are regulated in Pennsylvania and require permits.

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Lakes Management (Section 314 of the Clean Water Act)

Section 314 of the Clean Water Act focuses on lakes. Clean Lakes initiatives are now funded through Section 319. Pennsylvania has approximately 4,000 lakes, ponds and reservoirs that total about 161,000 water acres. The State’s Park System includes 150 lakes and ponds located in 72 different parks and include a total of 33,460 water acres. Boating, swimming, fishing and other recreational activities are often a part of a lake community. Pennsylvania’s lake management regulation is codified in the Department’s Rules and Regulations at Section 95.6 - Discharges to Lakes, Ponds and Impoundments which sets forth treatment requirements for point source discharges necessary to control eutrophication. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has also developed a Lake Management Plan for state park lakes that identifies individual lake needs. These individual problems have often been excluded from the overall maintenance and planning concerns of the parks. The challenge in lake management is to involve the people in the watershed in preventing nonpoint source pollution and restoring riparian habitat.

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Source Water Protection

Since the 1996 reauthorization of the Safe Drinking Water Act, DEP has been working to develop a Source Water Assessment and Protection Program related to raw water quality of drinking water sources serving public water systems (PWSs). The objective of the source water assessments is to rank the susceptibility of the drinking water source to existing or potential sources of contamination in the assessment area. The existing or potential sources of contamination may be within the jurisdiction of a regulatory or support program to reduce environmental contamination. All of these federal and state programs directly or indirectly recognize the critical nature of protecting public health and safety through safe drinking water supplies with emphasis on sources serving PWSs. Therefore, addressing the existing or potential sources of contamination in a source water assessment area is a cooperative effort. Congress intended the source water assessments to support local, voluntary source water protection programs and interagency program cooperation to address these priority issues to public health and safety. Local source water protection programs will be rightfully expecting DEP, state and federal program cooperation in addressing the priority impacts to their public drinking water sources. EPA will be increasing its efforts to cooperate with other federal agencies and direct its federal programs to emphasize and prioritize public health and safety through the Source Water Assessment and Protection Program. Nonpoint sources of contamination are now the primary cause of maximum contaminant level (MCL) violations and drinking water treatment problems. Protecting sources of public drinking water and support for local source water protection programs are a priority for the Department. The objectives are not always coincident with biological criteria. A stream may meet water quality standards but still pose a potential public health threat and a treatment problem for a PWS. The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund set aside funds will be used to enhance source water protection activities and protect human health in areas where nonpoint source (NPS) is a major problem. These areas will also be a priority for 319 funding to implement a comprehensive watershed restoration plan.

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Virginia State Contact

On this page:

Vision Statement - Virginia’s Nonpoint Source Pollution Program: To control nonpoint source pollution in order to restore and protect living resources and maintain the other beneficial uses of Virginia’s waters and help assure the protection of Virginia’s outstanding quality of life.

Goals: In December 1999, Virginia’s Nonpoint Source Management Plan was approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency in Region3. This Management Plan established important long-term goals to improve water quality and short-term actions to achieve those goals. Long-term goals included the following:

  • Develop and fully implement a cooperative watershed management program that integrates a comprehensive basin management and targeted sub-basin approach to implementing nonpoint source pollution control.
  • Maintain existing beneficial uses in unimpaired state waters and restore beneficial uses in surface waters where confined animal feeding and/or livestock grazing operations are contributing to a water quality impairment caused by sediment, nutrients, or pathogens as listed in the 303d TMDL Priority List Report, or where ground water contaminants originating from confined animal feeding and/or livestock grazing operations exceed the state ground water standard, by 2014.
  • Agricultural cropland will be managed in ways which maintain or restore beneficial uses in surface waters and protect water quality in ground water by controlling losses of sediment to surface waters and losses of nutrients and toxics to ground and surface waters by 2004.
  • Commercial nursery and ornamental operations will be managed in ways which maintain or restore beneficial uses in surface waters and water quality in ground water by controlling losses of sediment to surface waters and losses of nutrients and toxics to ground and surface waters by 2014.
  • Continue to develop and implement agricultural nonpoint source (NPS) programs to effectively prevent and reduce pollution in ground and surface waters through 2014.
  • Reduce nutrient and sediment pollution entering Virginia’s waters through full implementation of the silvicultural water quality law.
  • Maintain reduced levels of all nonpoint source pollutants to sustain designated uses and achieve beneficial uses of waters of the commonwealth by 2015.
  • Control nonpoint source pollutants related to erosion and sediment control on construction sites according to current Virginia Erosion and Sediment Control and Stormwater Management laws and regulations.
  • Adequately address nonpoint source pollutants related to stream channel erosion due to increased volume and rates of flow resulting from increased impervious cover, new and existing developed surfaces, and new and failing on-site sewage disposal systems.
  • The overall goal of Virginia’s nonpoint source pollution monitoring and tracking programs is to support the development, implementation and evaluation of the nonpoint source pollution management program. Monitoring and tracking measure the effectiveness of the management program to ensure that the beneficial uses of Virginia’s waters are attained and maintained.
  • To improve surface and ground water quality in watersheds throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia by reducing nonpoint source pollution associated with abandoned and orphaned resource extraction sites in 20 - 25 sub-watersheds for the purpose of obtaining designated uses. This can be accomplished through proper site planning, implementation of the best management practices, acid mine drainage remediation and land reclamation activities in associated high priority watersheds or areas with identified impaired stream segments.
  • Adverse effects of hydrologic modifications on water quality throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia will be minimized by using proper design methodologies and best management practices (BMPs).
  • To achieve maximum water quality benefits from available grant funds.
  • By 2005, ensure that technical assistance and support needed to achieve maximum water quality benefits is established.
  • Develop new public-private partnerships to enhance funding for ongoing nonpoint source program initiatives and implementation activities.
  • To ensure that all applicable management measures and additional measures to reduce nonpoint source pollution are implemented by 2014 for the purpose of attaining designated uses. 

In implementing the nonpoint source pollution program, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) receives input from the Nonpoint Source Advisory Committee (NPSAC), an interagency committee comprised of representatives of federal and state agencies. The mission of this committee is to serve as an interagency forum to facilitate effective nonpoint source pollution reduction and prevention programs that support the achievement and maintenance of beneficial uses of water throughout the commonwealth. The majority of these programs are incentive-based, with technical and financial assistance provided to encourage voluntary participation by various stakeholders. The existing programs are tools that are collectively incorporated into the nonpoint source pollution management programs implemented throughout the Commonwealth.

Additional Information:

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Watershed Prioritization

Virginia’s evolving watershed management approach includes several programs that implement nonpoint source pollution control efforts on a watershed basis. Nonpoint source (NPS) pollution , or polluted runoff, results from many activities across the landscape. Water quality degradation can result when polluted runoff from land use activities such as agriculture, forestry, and construction and development is introduced into surface and groundwater. These impacts can be characterized and addressed within a given watershed by assessing chemical, biological and physical attributes. Therefore, Virginia’s pollution control efforts have to be targeted toward addressing sources of pollution on a watershed basis. There are many other recognized strengths to a watershed management approach to NPS pollution control. NPS pollution, by its nature, lends itself to a watershed approach in that nonpoint sources are generally widespread, and loading patterns to waterways are more readily measured and controlled at the watershed level. In addition, a watershed approach offers opportunities to address a wider range of objectives, provides a framework to solve problems unique to individual watersheds, and addresses statewide water resources issues through a systematic review of all basins within the state. Also, public awareness and involvement in NPS prevention, and the opportunity for state and local cooperation is increased. The opportunity to improve communication with the public is one of the strongest motivating factors for states to adopt a statewide watershed management approach. By developing information plans and using methods that promote public involvement (e.g., educational meetings, workshops, Adopt-A-Stream, citizen stream monitoring, etc.), watershed management can increase public awareness on water related issues and facilitate responses to citizen concerns. Watershed plans contribute to a more informed public, which can result in more realistic expectations regarding water management. Due to all its increased opportunities for participation, a watershed planning approach can lead to increased public support for state-sponsored management initiatives. Watershed management also yields new opportunities for cooperative partnerships among federal, state, and local governments. By providing a common framework for management, each partner can see where it fits in and can focus its resources to complement the overall planning efforts. As Virginia moves forward with a watershed approach to NPS pollution control, program coordination and the ability to target resources will be key to effective implementation. Strong partnerships and interagency cooperation will be required to affect these changes.

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Agriculture

Agriculture is a large and diverse industry in Virginia. It accounts for approximately nine million acres (30 percent) of Virginia’s land use. Agricultural land uses include row crop production of grains, forage, peanuts, cotton, tobacco, and vegetables; pasture and hay production necessary for beef and dairy production; as well as facilities for poultry, swine, beef, dairy, and equine operations; orchards; and ornamental nursery operations. According to the 1998 303(d) Total Maximum Daily Load Priority List Report, agricultural nonpoint source pollution is the largest source of pollutants causing non-attainment of designated water uses in monitored segments of Virginia’s rivers. The Virginia Nonpoint Source Pollution Watershed Assessment Report indicates that the pollution potential is greatest where agricultural activities occur on highly erodible soils, in areas of intense crop and pasture production and in areas of high livestock and poultry production. Nonpoint source pollutants typically associated with agriculture include nutrients, sediments, pathogens and toxics. These pollutants can escape crop field and livestock production areas and enter surface and ground water systems. This can occur as a result of surface runoff and air deposition. When their levels in water become significant, they can have a negative impact on aquatic life, cause a reduction in dissolved oxygen, clog water treatment system filters and weaken or destroy aquatic vertebrates and invertebrates as well as their habitat. Human use of the water may become affected as a result of excessive plant growth, increased turbidity, and damaged fisheries and wildlife habitat. Nonpoint source pollution associated with agricultural activities can also impact the water quality of ground water supplies, particularly in areas with highly permeable soils or karst topography

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Forestry

Virginia has approximately 16 million acres of forested land (63 percent of the state). According to the Forest Statistics for Virginia, 1992 resource bulletin, approximately 79 percent of forest land in Virginia comprises hardwoods such as oak and hickory, and the remaining 21 percent consists of softwood species such as loblolly, Virginia and white pine. Approximately 43 percent of the average annual harvest is softwood and 57 percent is hardwood. The primary pollutant associated with forestry operations is sediment resulting from soil loss. Forestry activities can accelerate soil erosion, depositing sediment into state waters. High sediment concentrations can smother bottom dwelling organisms, damage aquatic plants and harm the gills of some fish species. Improper silvicultural practices can also lead to increases in water temperature due to the removal of vegetation adjacent to streams, nutrient enrichment and the introduction of toxic chemicals such as herbicides, pesticides and petroleum products. Estimates by the Virginia Department of Forestry (DOF) staff indicate that silvicultural operations account for 5 percent of the nonpoint source pollution affecting Virginia rivers. However, the potential for localized water quality impacts is significant where intensive forestry practices occur and best management practices (BMPs) have not been implemented. The Virginia Nonpoint Source Pollution Watershed Assessment Report indicates that the pollution potential is greatest where forestry activities take place on steep slopes and highly erodible soils. DOF is the lead state agency for the implementation of forestry nonpoint source programs. In cooperation with the forest industry, DOF has implemented an innovative forest nonpoint source (NPS) program which is supported by financial incentives such as cost-share programs. DOF NPS pollution programs stress voluntary BMPs to achieve sediment reduction and other nonpoint source pollution goals. This non-regulatory program is complemented by the Virginia Silvicultural Water Quality Law which gives DOF enforcement authority to issue stop work orders, levy fines and require corrective action to protect waters of the commonwealth from excessive sedimentation originating from forestry operations. As the lead nonpoint source pollution agency, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) works closely with DOF to coordinate nonpoint source pollution control initiatives. In particular, DCR provides grant funding for DOF program enhancement and implementation activities and works cooperatively with DOF on buffer initiatives. DOF staff are active participants in the Nonpoint Source Advisory Committee and DCR staff are actively involved with the Silvicultural Water Quality Task Force.

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Construction & Development

The conservation of land surfaces from underdeveloped open and woodland space to an urbanized setting complete with housing, commercial and transportation infrastructure, causes a significant change in the surface runoff hydrology and eliminates opportunities for infiltration and flow attenuation. This developed condition increases the volume and peak flow rate of runoff from rainfall. During the construction process excess runoff can become laden with sediment and nutrients, which are then deposited in downstream channels, sinkholes and streams. In the post-construction, or developed condition, increase in runoff can cause severe accelerated erosion of stream channel beds and banks, depositing additional sediment and nutrients in the downstream systems, as well as destroying the various habitats found within the stream channel. The urbanized landscape also collects and stores various urban pollutants such as sediments, nutrients and toxics on impervious surfaces. During storm events these deposited polllutants are quickly and easily flushed from impervious surfaces resulting in potentially high concentrations of pollutant laden runoff. Finally, the urbanizing landscape typically contains an increasing number of privately owned on-site sewage disposal systems which, over time, may release pathogens to the surface runoff.

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Monitoring & Tracking

Water quality monitoring and tracking nonpoint source pollution control implementation are essential elements of Virginia’s Nonpoint Source Pollution Management Program. Monitoring and tracking support and direct program activities by providing information on water quality and the health of water resources. The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) administers the state ambient water quality monitoring programs. The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is the lead state agency for supporting and tracking nonpoint source (NPS) pollution control implementation. Both DCR and DEQ support citizen monitoring efforts in Virginia. Identifying water quality problems and the sources of impairment is a major focus of Virginia’s water quality monitoring program. Virginia’s plan fro NPS pollution monitoring and tracking activities identifies the roles and responsibilities of various state agencies and other organizations, and potential barriers to conducting a comprehensive program.

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Resource Extraction

The Virginia General Assembly determined that uncontrolled resource extraction activities in Virginia, from the mining of coal and non-fuel minerals and the extraction of gas and oil, can contribute several pollutants to water resources. Legislation was passed to regulate these activities. Resource extraction activities are broken down into three subcategories; coal mining, gas and oil, and mineral mining. The focus of the Nonpoint Source (NPS) Management Plan is the NPS pollution associated with resource extraction activities that arises from abandoned coal operations, orphaned mineral mines, and gas or oil well sites. These sites were not subject to current regulatory requirements and operated without having to meet the NPDES effluent standards. Abandoned and orphaned sites can remain unvegetated for 100 years after extraction activities have ceased and represent the primary source of NPS pollution from mineral, gas and coal extraction. The definition of abandoned mines refers to coal mines abandoned prior to the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) of 1977. Orphaned mineral mines are defined as those areas disturbed by the mining of minerals, not including coal, which were not required by law to be reclaimed or have not been reclaimed. Orphaned wells are those gas and oil wells that were abandoned prior to the enactment of current laws requiring reclamation. The potential for NPS pollution impacts of abandoned and orphaned mines on state waters is significant. Erosion and sedimentation can destroy aquatic habitat and ruin stream channels. Acid mine drainage (low pH), and the corresponding heavy metal contamination, can significantly impair the ability of a stream to support biota, killing plants and animals that cannot withstand low pH levels. Ground water contamination from abandoned and orphaned mines and wells is also a concern due to fracturing and open pathways for pollutants to enter an underground aquifer. These impacts are remediated through reclamation activities on nonpermitted sites.

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Hydromodification

Hydrologic modification is the alteration of stream flow by human activities. All hydrologic modifications, whether properly or improperly implemented, may result in nonpoint source (NPS) pollution to the waters of the Commonwealth of Virginia, impacting aquatic and riparian habitats. Population growth and development may cause land use changes that result in hydrologic changes to the watersheds of Virginia. Channel modifications are sometimes needed to maintain navigable waterways and control flooding. Dam construction and operation is often necessary to store water for irrigation, recreation, flood control and to provide a source of drinking water. Yet, these activities can be nonpoint sources of pollution and adversely affect water quality and habitat if not properly managed. The principle NPS pollutant resulting from hydrologic modification is sediment. However, nutrients and toxics may also be associated with the sediment produced by these activities. Watershed development and disturbances to riparian areas may result in increased streambank or shoreline erosion, water quality degradation, and destruction of sensitive aquatic habitat. In particular, channel modifications undertaken in streams or rivers to straighten, relocate or change the depth or width of a channel can alter: instream water temperature, physical and chemical characteristics of bottom sediments, rate and characteristics of sediment transport and deposition, and flooding frequencies of downstream property. In addition, some channel modifications require maintenance dredging, which can diminish the suitability of aquatic and riparian habitat for fish and wildlife. While some adverse impacts associated with channel modification activities may be temporary, loss of habitat and the need for ongoing maintenance can have significant long-term consequences. Siting, constructing and operating dams and impoundments can result in significant changes in the ecology of streams and rivers. The construction of dams may result in considerable increases in nonpoint source pollution such as increased sediment loading and chemical contaminants. Dam operation can produce changes in water temperature and water chemistry (pH and dissolved oxygen). In addition, dams and impoundments can disrupt the natural transport of sediment and can result in significant changes to instream flow.

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West Virginia State Contact

Agriculture | Construction | Silviculture | Resource Extraction | Watershed Management | Watershed Resource Center

 

Goal: The goal of the West Virginia's Department of Environmental Protection is to use all available resources, including technology-based best management practices (BMPs) and land use control, to protect and restore West Virginia’s environment in concert with the needs of present and future generations. 

Mission: The Office of Water Resources' mission is to preserve the physical, chemical and biological integrity of surface and ground waters, considering nature and the health, safety, recreational, and economic needs of humanity. 

On February 1, 2001, West Virginia's Nonpoint Source Management Plan - December 2000 Update was approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency in Region 3. This Management Plan established important long-term goals to improve water quality and short-term actions to achieve those goals. Long-term goals included the following: 

  1. To continue to assess the impact of the nonpoint sources on the surface and groundwaters of the state and to identify specific causes of nonpoint source pollution to evaluate the effectiveness of the implementation program. 
  2. To implement and update the nonpoint source assessment document and the management program plan as necessary and to suggest cost effective solutions and activities.  Every effort will be made to make reasonable and effective use of the limited resources available to mitigate pollution problems. 
  3. To achieve, maintain and protect state water quality standards for surface and ground water and to seek realistic improvement of water quality where standards are not met. 
  4. To provide a balanced program of statewide nonpoint source program initiatives based upon education, technical assistance, financial incentives, demonstrations and regulation. 
  5. To reduce nonpoint source loading to the state's waters and to preserve the designated uses for which water quality standards have been established. 

Through environmental improvement programs such as the Watershed Assessment Program with the Office of Water Resources, the public can partake and share information with agency personnel at public meetings about water quality in the local area.  Other valuable programs include Stream Partners Program, which assists watershed associations financially and technically to improve water quality in their watersheds, and West Virginia Watersheds Network, which is a cooperative of non-governmental and governmental organizations to meet together to share resources and information to improve water quality and enhance watershed management.  With programs like these, West Virginia is working to improve water quality with the outcome of overall environmental improvement.

Agriculture

Agriculture is a growing industry in West Virginia. There are about 20,000 farms statewide on 3.7 million acres of land. Gross farm income totals $502.9 million. Agricultural uses include poultry production, crop production including hay and corn, cattle, sheep and other livestock operations, and small aquaculture operations. Approximately 13,000 or 65% of the 20,000 farms are currently Soil Conservation District cooperators. District cooperators are required to have a conservation plan. The programs that West Virginia currently has, includes numerous watershed based, regional and statewide programs to address agricultural non point source threats to surface and groundwater. The West Virginia Stream Partners Program provides minigrants up to $5000 to watershed associations for watershed improvement projects. Assistance is also provided to develop grant proposals and carry out restoration projects. Assistance also comes from USDA, which provides cost-share incentives to control erosion from cropland and other related agriculture best management practices. The main nonpoint source pollutants associated with agriculture include nutrients, fertilizers, sediments, pathogens and toxins. Management plans include addressing eroding lands by improving vegetative cover, as in the Grasslands Management Program and restoring wetlands to help in cleansing waterways, as in the Wetland Reserve Program. The Water Quality Incentive Program is a three year program that provides funds and technical assistance to help landowners treat runoff from pastures, croplands, and livestock grazing lands. This ultimately aims to reduce nutrient load into nearby waters. Specific goals in the management plan for agriculture include:

  1. Provide support to and coordination with WV Watershed Management Framework to identify, prioritize, and implement watershed projects though the year 2005.
  2. Provide support and guidance to local watershed associations with agricultural nonpoint source issues through the year 2005.
  3. Establish riparian buffers and improve BMP technology to reduce impacts to surface waters from soil erosion on agricultural lands with a focus on priority watersheds identified through the Watershed Management Framework to achieve compliance with water quality standards by 2010.
  4. Develop and implement nutrient management plans with agriculture producers to manage 580,000 lbs of nitrogen and 420,000 lbs of phosphorus per year.
  5. Reduce reliance on government for implementation of the presidress nitrogen testing program (PSNT) to free up professional staff time to allow for broader education and technical assistance.
  6. Work with the agriculture community on the installation of agriculture best management practices with a focus on priority watersheds identified through Watershed Management Framework, TMDLs, etc. through the year 2005.
  7. Obtain a better understanding of the movement or transport of phosphorus through the soil to establish appropriate best management practices by 2005.
  8. Evaluate status of Animal Feeding Operations (AFOs) in West Virginia.
  9. Coordinate with WVDA, WVSCA, USDA, CES, WV Department of Health and Human Resources and others to establish waste management guidelines for aquaculture.
  10. Manage pesticides on 5000 acres to protect surface and ground water by 2005.
  11. Implement pesticide container disposal program coordinated by WV Department of Agriculture.
  12. Develop professional and credible field staff through 2005.
  13. Manage 3,000,000 lbs of nitrogen, 6,000,000 lbs of phosphorus and save 200,000 tons of soil through the statewide grassland management program by 2005.
  14. Conduct 55 (1 per county) presentations of WV Watersafe Program by 2005.
  15. Use the Agriculture Water Quality Loan Program (AgWQLP) in priority watersheds (including TMDL watersheds) in West Virginia to encourage implementation of needed best management practices through 2005.
  16. Plan for nutrient and animal waste to reduce NPS impacts to surface and ground water by managing 65,000 lbs of nitrogen, 45,000 lbs of phosphorus and reduce soil erosion by 6500 tons, with a focus on priority watersheds identified through the Watershed Management Framework by 2005.
  17. Improve and protect surface and groundwater in the South Branch, Potomac by managing 134,000 tons of animal waste consisting of 11,691,200 lbs of nitrogen and 8,170,400 tons of phosphorus by 2005.
  18. Coordinate efforts between agencies through WVDA Laboratory facilities through 2005.
  19. Utilize USDA Environmental Quality Incentive Program and other available programs to provide financial assistance to implement water quality best management practices in watersheds targeted through the WV Watershed Management Framework through 2005.
  20. Work to address issues related to the urban/rural interface in the growing Eastern Panhandle and other areas of the state through 2005.
  21. Improve data management and tracking of BMPs to show and measure water quality improvements through 2005.
  22. Conduct conservation and water quality education presentations and programs through 2005.
  23. Increase public involvement in agriculture NPS program.

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Construction

West Virginia has ongoing construction development. This includes highway construction, residential development and commercial development. Construction sites greater than 3 acres must have a NPDES permit, which includes the submission of a sediment and erosion control plan, and implementation of identified best management practices (BMPs). By volume, soil is the largest pollutant source in West Virginia’s waterways. Excessive sedimentation in waterways destroys aquatic habitats, increases drinking water costs, and reduces the recreational value of the waters. Construction Sediment Control Plans are submitted to the Soil Conservation Districts (SCD), and are reviewed by NPS personnel in that area. Sediment and erosion control plans are submitted, designed and implemented by contractors and developers with the assistance of the NPS personnel and the local SCD. Some programs are voluntary, particularly those for construction sites less than three acres. These voluntary programs have been successful from the considerable amount of participation by contractors and developers. Specific goals in the management plan for construction include:

  1. Provide support to and coordination with WV Watershed Management Framework to identify, prioritize, and implement watershed projects through 2005.
  2. Provide support and guidance to local watershed associations with construction nonpoint source issues through 2005.
  3. Reduce erosion of 108,000 tons of soil on 1200 acres of construction sites and other disturbed areas by 2002.
  4. Obtain consistent implementation and maintenance of construction BMPs by contractors by providing routine, on-site technical assistance to contractors and developers in cooperation with WVDEP by 2005.
  5. Educate contractors, developers, engineers and other professionals on construction nonpoint source issues and best management practices by 2005.
  6. Educate the general public including schools on construction nonpoint source issues and best management practices using the Enviroscape and the Watershed Resource Center through 2005.
  7. Improve the understanding of local governments on the need for regulations and adequate construction and stormwater management programs in identified priority watersheds by 2010.
  8. Improve stormwater management in West Virginia by 2010.
  9. Provide information to contractors, developers and landowners on the potential for groundwater impacts from construction activities and ways these might be reduced by 2005.
  10. Increase public involvement in construction NPS program by 2005.

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Silviculture

Silviculture is a branch of forestry dealing with the development and care of forests. West Virginia has approximately 12 million acres of forest land of the States 15.4 million acres. Wood production is a growing industry in West Virginia. About 29,000 jobs and 3.1 billion dollars of business volume are generated from the wood product industry. Despite the benefits from the wood product industry, there are environmental impacts that tend to cause damage to streams and rivers. Studies show that a timber harvest operation disturbs 8-10 percent of the total area in road construction and landing sites. These areas can contribute to erosion, soil loss, and sedimentation. Amelioration of these effects include planting trees, which can be a long term benefit to soil and water resources. However, if heavy equipment is used, damage can ensue as soils are compacted, ruts and furrows are created that accelerate water flow and cause erosion along streambanks. Another culprit of water pollution is wildfires. These fires drastically reduce woodland values, potential timber production, and wildlife habitat. There is a study that shows that extensive erosion can result from forest fires. It was found that both high intensity fires and repeatedly burned forests are sources of severe soil erosion, which leads to water pollution. One program that West Virginia currently has is the Logging Sediment Control Act, which establishes a process for logger licensing, logger certification, timber operation notification, posting and best management practice implementation. Other existing programs include Forest Protection, specifically preventing fires, Cooperative Forest Management, which provides technical assistance to private nonindustrial landowners in proper forest management activities, Tree Farm Program, which encourages private forest landowners to manage their forests to protect wildlife habitat, water quality and recreational opportunities. Urban and Community Forestry programs that emphasize forestry in urban areas. Trees reduce surface runoff and increase ground water recharge. These outcomes benefit water quality. The Stewardship Incentive Program, Forest Incentive Program and Watershed Management are three other programs in place to encourage improvement of soil and water quality, tree quality, and protecting prioritized hydrologic regions, respectively. Specific goals in the management plan for silviculture include:

  1. Administer the Logging Sediment Control Act which will reduce the impacts or potential impacts to water quality by the year 2005.
  2. Educate industry and consulting foresters along with private non-industrial landowners on the use and advantages of best management practices.
  3. Reduce the occurrence and size of fires and protect the forest land from insect and disease problems by developing a strong prevention program in each county.
  4. Enhance detection capability and increase suppression activity.
  5. Monitor and protect forest health.
  6. Encourage forest management on all forest land which will ensure a productive forest and enhance water quality by the year 2005.
  7. Conduct multiple-use management on public lands.
  8. Promote and service the West Virginia Tree Farm Program, which requires a management plan for involvement.
  9. Increase communities involved with the Urban Forestry Program by the year 2005.
  10. Support the Stewardship Incentive Program (SIP) and Forest Incentive Program (FIP) and promote increased landowner involvement by 2005.
  11. Cooperatively manage watersheds as a whole with other players and achieve common goals with sound forestry management practices by 2010.

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Resource Extraction

Resource extraction includes activities such as mining, specifically for coal. More than two-thirds of West Virginia’s 24,282 square miles lie within the Appalachian bituminous coal area, an area rich in coal and natural gas. This area is recognized to be the most valuable fuel deposit in the U.S. Coal production is a popular industry in West Virginia. Thirty-nine of the 55 counties in West Virginia are coal producing counties. West Virginia has ranked among the top five states in coal production for most of the twentieth century. Despite the economic benefits from this industry, coal production has also caused environmental impacts. Some nonpoint source pollutants include sediments produced from erosion, wastewater from mining, alkaline mine drainage, acid mine drainage and metal-laden drainage. The resources affected include agriculture, air, fish and wildlife, groundwater, surface water, land, soils, vegetation, human quality of life and water usage. The programs that West Virginia currently has is the Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Program, which aims to reclaim and restore abandoned mine areas to protect the health, safety, and general welfare of the public and the environment, the Abandoned Mine Land Fund, which has enabled West Virginia to reclaim thousands of acres of abandoned mine lands and many miles of streams clogged by mine sediment or polluted coal mine drainage. Two other important programs is Stream Partners and the Appalachian Clean Streams Initiative, partnerships of federal, state, local government, and university researchers, that have focused on education and restoration projects in watersheds. Specific goals in the management plan for resource extraction include:

  1. By 2025, support and attain designated and beneficial water uses in watersheds affected by acid mine drainage from abandoned mine lands.
  2. By 2010, provide information and data necessary utilizing a Holistic Watershed Approach to assist in developing watershed management plans through the Watershed Management Framework for the protection and restoration of water resources impacted by resource extraction category NPS pollution.
  3. Participate in watershed-based programs to support resource extraction category NPS pollution watershed protection and restoration activities.
  4. By 2001, begin the implementation of watershed protection and restoration plans in priority watersheds that address resource extraction category NPS pollution utilizing a Holistic Watershed Approach through a Watershed Management Framework that identifies priorities, solutions, funding, implementation, and stakeholders.
  5. By 2001, begin the development and implementation of new and innovative BMPs, treatment and abatement alternatives, and prevention technologies for resources extraction category NPS pollution.
  6. By 2004, increase existing and secure additional funding for resource extraction category NPS pollution watershed protection and restoration projects, Holistic Watershed Approach, and Watershed Management Framework.
  7. Participate in fostering five Watershed Associations per Watershed Management Framework cycle to implement a Holistic Watershed Approach and participate in the Watershed Management Framework to support watershed protection, restoration, and management activities relating to resource extraction category NPS pollution.
  8. Participate in five public forums by 2006 to provide outreach and education and create resource extraction category NPS pollution awareness as a part of the Holistic Watershed Approach, Watershed Management Framework, Watershed Network, and Stream Partners Program.

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Watershed Management

The Office of Water Resources’ Nonpoint Source Program coordinates overall activities of the overall management plan to insure that goals and objectives are achieved and that components of the management plan achieved, in addition the Office implements many watershed based activities. Some of the details of the program include water quality monitoring, resolving nonpoint source pollution complaints, promotion of BMP planning, implementation of BMP’s to control nonpoint source pollution, and enforcement support. The Office of Water Resources Watershed Assessment Program is responsible for monitoring water quality using the watershed approach and providing this data and monitoring support to various programs and projects in West Virginia. The Pollution Prevention Program aims to reduce wastes at their source and assists various nonpoint communities by providing pollution prevention alternatives, and compliance assistance when ever possible. West Virginia’s Division of Environmental Protection is working with partners to institute a watershed management approach to restore and protect water resources in the state. This approach compiles programs and activities existing already to achieve shared water resource management goals and objectives. The term “watershed” refers to a geographic delineation of an entire water body system and the land that drains into it. The basis for a watershed approach is to focus on water resource protection and restoration through integrated efforts within defined hydrologic regions. Currently, many groups are coordinating together in this watershed management approach. Such groups include West Virginia Division of Environmental Protection, West Virginia Soil Conservation Agency, West Virginia Division of Forestry, West Virginia Bureau of Public Health, West Virginia Bureau of Commerce, U.S. EPA, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Office of Surface Mining, U.S. Forest Service, Monongahela National Forest, Natural Resources Conservation Service. and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Specific goals in the watershed management plan include:

  1. Conduct restoration activities and best management practices implementation in the priority watersheds by 2020 as designated by the Watershed Management Framework and the TMDL process with the goal of achieving compliance with the Clean Water Act and fulfillment of all designated uses for all the state’s watersheds.
  2. Annually update each existing category (agriculture, construction, silviculture, and resource extraction) and includes additional sub-category updates on sludge land application, basin wide management, hydrologic modification, urban stormwater and septic tank retrofit to allow use of SRF monies.
  3. To assess the impact of nonpoint source pollution on the surface and groundwaters of West Virginia and to identify the specific causes of nonpoint source pollution by 2010.
  4. Implement a pilot project to serve as a template for the establishment and refinement of a state wide program to replace or repair failing septic systems by 2015.
  5. Enforce the 404 permit through the 401 certification with compliance and technical assistance from the WV Soil Conservation Agency, WV Division of Natural Resources and the US Fish & Wildlife Service to achieve at least 90% compliance by 2005.
  6. Identify streams in the priority watersheds, as designated by the Watershed Management Framework process, where stream bank erosion is causing water quality problems.
  7. Provide assistance through the Landowner Stream Access Program to stabilize stream banks in the priority watersheds.
  8. Assess the impact of urban runoff in the state’s watersheds by 2005.
  9. Develop an urban runoff program by 2005.

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Watershed Resource Center

The West Virginia Watershed Resource Center is an expansion of the Nonpoint Source Resource Management Training Center. It is a cooperative project by the West Virginia Soil Conservation Agency, West Virginia Department of Education, West Virginia Division of Environmental Protection and US EPA. The main objectives of this project is to reduce nonpoint source pollution through education and information to government and non-governmental organizations including, watershed groups, local, state and federal agencies and members of the general public and community at large. The West Virginia Watershed Resource Center at Cedar Lakes, West Virginia provides information on water quality enhancement to all groups of land users, including urban developers, loggers, farmers, earth moving contractors, and consulting engineers. Erosion control materials, videos, and pertinent publications are available at the resource center. Environmental implications that can occur due to a lack of knowledge include siltation of streams from timbering operations, pollution of groundwater from improperly constructed oil wells, impacts from bacteria and nutrients from animal wastes to surface water, and impacts from chemical fertilizers from over application by landowners. The programs that West Virginia currently has, includes numerous training programs on NPS pollution and BMP implementation. These trainings are specified for particular groups, especially watershed groups. It is with these educational resources that knowledge of NPS pollution and its prevention can be shared with a wide range of members in the community. Specific goals in the management plan for the West Virginia Watershed Resource Center include:

  1. Provide support, education and information to WV’s watershed based management efforts.
  2. Provide training and information transfer for watershed associations, agencies, and the general public on nonpoint source pollution, watershed management, and NPS best management practices.
  3. Assist in the outreach and recognition for watershed activities.
  4. Promote an understanding of nonpoint source issues, conservation education, watershed management, and NPS best management practices.

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