The federal Clean Water Act (CWA), passed in 1972, resulted in huge improvement of the nation’s waters. The CWA regulation of point source discharges essentially removed one major threat to clean water – but left another in place without any control: nonpoint source pollution (NPS). Nonpoint source water pollution refers to contaminants that do not come from pipes or other point sources, rather, NPS pollutants include those that are picked up and carried to waterbodies and groundwater by rain and snowmelt water runoff moving over and through the ground. Nonpoint sources include storm sewers, failing septic systems and underground storage tanks, and runoff from construction sites, mining areas, farm fields, and paved surfaces, rooftops and lawns. These sources contribute bacteria, fertilizers, oils, chemicals, sediment and more to our waters and most are not regulated. Atmospheric deposition and hydrologic modification are also sources of nonpoint source pollution. NPS now causes most of the water quality impairments in Missouri and the U.S.
Congress amended the Clean Water Act in 1987 with the addition of Section 319 to address nonpoint source pollution. States that have an EPA-approved nonpoint source management program may receive grant funding under Section 319(h). Grant funding can support broader program activities to reduce nonpoint source pollution, or can be used to provide subgrants to eligible organizations for projects that target restoration or protection of waters impaired or threatened by NPS.
As part of its nonpoint source management program, states must identify their NPS impaired or threatened waters (listed in their 303(d) and 305(b) reports), and develop and implement measures, described in an approved NPS management plan, to improve those waters and protect other high priority waters from NPS impacts. States must submit annual reports on their progress and success in implementing their plan. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is the administrator of Missouri’s NPS management program. The mission of the program is to protect and improve the quality of Missouri’s water resources using locally led approaches to address NPS impairments.
Nonpoint Source Management Plan
Developed by the department in concert with other state and federal partners, Missouri’s Nonpoint Source Management Plan (NPSMP) guides the state’s efforts in coordinating and prioritizing nonpoint source pollution reduction efforts and supporting state activities under Section 319 of the CWA. The plan’s priorities also help determine allocation of subgrant resources. Priorities in the current plan include development and implementation of 9-element watershed based plans for priority watersheds, and protection of high priority waters, including state and national outstanding resource waters, drinking source water, karst features, designated waters of high ecological/recreational significance and wetlands. The plan is non-regulatory, rather, it is provided by the department to serve as a voluntary tool to help stakeholders address nonpoint source challenges in Missouri. This document is revised every five years to reflect current conditions.
To meet the requirements of the Section 319 NPS Management Program, the department reports annually on the state's progress in meeting the goals outlined in its NPSMP. The NPSMP annual report is submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other stakeholders.