Implement Strategies. Section 319: Nonpoint Source Program (continued). Programs to ensure use of BMPs: Cost-sharing, technical assistance, land purchase and easements, regulations; State-wide/reservation-wide baseline plus targeting of key areas (e.g. TMDLs); Address both impaired and threatened waters. Slide includes photo of cow using a non-electric nose watering pump.

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Section 319: Nonpoint Source Program

Nonpoint source pollution (NPS) represents the most significant source of pollution overall in the country. According to states’ 305(b) and 303(d) reports, more miles of rivers and acres of lakes are impaired by overland runoff from row crop farming, livestock pasturing, and other types of nonpoint sources than by industrial facilities, municipal sewage plants, and point source runoff from municipal storm sewer systems and stormwater associated with industrial activity. The most recent set of 303(d) reports (from 2002-2010, depending upon the state) indicated that more than 40 percent of all impaired waters were affected solely by nonpoint sources, while less than 10 percent of water quality criteria exceedances were caused by point source discharges alone.

The CWA does not provide a detailed definition of nonpoint sources. Rather, they are defined by exclusion—anything not considered a “point source” according to the act and EPA regulations. All nonpoint sources of pollution are caused by runoff of precipitation (rain and/or snow) over or through the ground. This includes stormwater associated with industrial activity, construction-related runoff, and discharges from municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s).

Atmospheric deposition also is a form of nonpoint source according to the CWA and EPA regulations: pollutants discharged into the air and returned directly or indirectly to surface waters in rainfall and snow, as well as so-called dry deposition between precipitation events. Of course, “smokestack industries” such as fossil-fueled electric generating plants could be considered “point sources of air pollution.” But the diffuse deposition of pollutants emitted by such facilities is a form of nonpoint source in the context of water pollution. The reason that precipitation-induced runoff is treated as a point source rather than nonpoint has to do with channelization. Channelization is a key characteristic of a point source. Diffuse stormwater runoff, which is not channelized, is not regulated and is a nonpoint source.

Pollutants commonly associated with NPS include nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen), pathogens, clean sediments, oil and grease, salt, and pesticides.

Congress chose not to address nonpoint sources through a regulatory approach, unlike its actions with “point” sources. Rather, when it added Section 319 to the CWA in 1987, it created a federal grant program that provides money to states, tribes, and territories for developing and implementing NPS management programs.

Under the Clean Water Act section 319, states, territories, and delegated tribes are required to develop nonpoint source pollution management programs (if they wish to receive 319 funds). Once it has approved a state’s nonpoint source program, EPA provides grants to these entities to implement NPS management programs under section 319(h). Section 319 is a significant source of funding for implementing NPS management programs, but there are other federal (e.g., Farm Bill), state, local, and private programs.

Congressional appropriations for the CWA section 319 program peaked at $230 million in 2002, but have averaged about $200 million in recent years. Recipients of CWA section 319 grand funds must provide a 40 percent match, either in dollars or in-kind services. States and territories “pass on” a substantial fraction of the 319 funds they receive from EPA to support local nonpoint source pollution management efforts. Depending on the state or territory, a “local match” may be required.

Though there is no CWA federal regulatory authority over nonpoint sources of pollution and the act does not require states to develop their own regulatory programs to obtain 319 grants, states, territories, and tribes may, at their discretion, use 319 funds to develop their own NPS regulatory programs. To date, however, few have done so.

Section 319 funds can be used to conduct activities to ensure the use of Best Management Practices (BMPs), develop strategies for collaborating with other agencies and draft monitoring and evaluation plans. Sec. 319 funds also can be used for developing and implementing TMDLs in watersheds where nonpoint sources are a substantial contributor of loadings of the pollutant(s) causing impairment. A state, tribe, or territory receiving section 319 funds must complete and update an NPS management plan every five years.

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