Modified from Living on the Land 2001: Stewardship for Small Acreages
Information Developed by Susan Donaldson, University of Nevada, Cooperative Extension

"Nonpoint source pollution is now America’s largest unregulated water quality problem..."

Nonpoint source pollution is now America’s largest unregulated water quality problem and is estimated to represent more than 50 percent of the nation's remaining water pollution problems. Each year our stormdrains, creeks, ditches and riverbanks convey millions of pounds of pollutants of all types to the nation’s water bodies, including ground water aquifers.

soapy waterNonpoint source (NPS) pollution, unlike point source pollution from industrial and sewage treatment plants, comes from many diffuse sources. NPS pollution is caused by rainfall or snowmelt moving over and through the ground. As the runoff moves, it picks up and carries away natural and human-caused pollutants, finally depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters, and even our underground sources of drinking water.

For purposes of describing pollutants associated with contaminated runoff, there are six main categories:

  1. Nutrients
  2. Pathogens
  3. Sediment (dirt)
  4. Chemicals
  5. Debris (junk)
  6. Temperature