Land Use and Water Quality

Non-Point Source Pollution

Often when people think of pollution they think of sources such as factories, power plants and sewage treatment facilities. Unlike pollution from factories and sewage treatment plants, non-point source pollution comes from many different areas with no particular place of origin.

Non-Point Pollution Sources
Several Non-point Pollution Sources

Rather than coming from a singular place, Non-Point Source Pollution is caused by the accumulation of pollutants as stormwater runoff moves across the landscape. As the runoff travels, it picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants, ultimately depositing them into lakes, creeks, rivers, and wetlands.

These pollutants include:

* Excess fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides from golf courses, farms, city and suburban lawns

* Oil, grease, and toxic chemicals from parking lots and streets

* Sediment from improperly managed construction sites, crop and forest lands, and eroding stream banks

* Bacteria and nutrients from livestock, pet waste, and faulty septic systems

In a healthy watershed

Native vegetation and wetlands are present to intercept and slow the flow of water as it travels through the watershed, removing sediment and allowing large quantities of water to enter the soil and percolate into the groundwater or aquifer. Most human activities and development have the potential to adversely affect the overall health and quality of a watershed.

When viewed individually, most human activities have little effect on the general health of the watershed. However, the effects of numerous activities within a watershed are cumulative, and when combined, can greatly diminish the watershed's overall health. As people place more demands on a watershed, greater efforts must be made to reduce these cumulative effects.

It requires communities and local units of government to work together to ensure that activities do not negatively impact those downstream.  Whether you own a business, lake shore property, farmland, or a home in town, you should know the regulations for your area and the "Best Management Practices" to be sure that you are not negatively impacting water quality.

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