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  Bureau of Environmental Analysis, Restoration and Standards

Nonpoint Source Pollution Management Program

What is Nonpoint Source Pollution?

Nonpoint source (NPS) pollution is water pollution that is generated by everyday activities, such as fertilizing the lawn, walking pets, changing motor oil or gasoline, and littering. NPS pollution is caused when contaminants deposited on the land surface are washed off and carried into nearby waterways or ground water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has identified NPS pollution as the nation's largest water quality problem, causing impairment of approximately 40% of surveyed rivers, lakes and estuaries in the Country (see NPS pollution originates from many sources. It is carried and deposited into surface and ground water by rainfall or snowmelt moving over and through the ground (stormwater runoff) or through everyday activities that cause water to run over impervious surfaces like driveways and walkways. As the runoff moves, it picks up natural and human-made pollutants, depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters, and even underground sources of drinking water.

NPS pollution is difficult to manage because it emanates from a large variety of sources, including many common human activities. It is also not generally subject to regulatory controls. NPS pollution may include chemicals and pathogens such as oil and grease from roadways and parking lots; fertilizers from lawns, golf courses, and agricultural fields; and bacteria from improperly maintained septic systems, pet waste, and large congregations of waterfowl and other wildlife. However, NPS pollution can also include impacts not typically thought of as pollution, such as increased water temperature resulting from the clearing of streamside vegetation, or significant changes in the hydrology of the stream resulting from either increased stormwater runoff, which can erode the stream bed and banks, or the loss of water in the stream during dry weather resulting from the loss of recharge in a watershed under development and/or increased water withdrawals within a water supply watershed. Source control includes strategies that prevent the introduction of pollutants to the environment as well as taking advantage of natural systems to filter and process pollutants in each watershed. Strategies include those that remedy existing and past practices and those that ensure best management practices are applied to prevent new sources.

Nonpoint Source Pollution Management Program

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's (NJDEP's) Statewide NPS Pollution Management Program is implemented cooperatively with many other department programs along with other State agencies, including the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, local governments and the watershed associations. This program combines regulatory controls, non-regulatory strategies, watershed-based plans and restoration actions, and targeted funding to address NPS pollution on a scale that ranges from statewide to individual watersheds or sources of NPS. The Division of Water Monitoring and Standards (DWMS) is responsible for developing the Statewide NPS Pollution Management Program Plan, submitting it to USEPA for approval, and publishing annual progress reports. The current Program report is available for review from the link below. Previous reports are available under Technical Support Documents.

NEW: New Jersey Nonpoint Source Management Program Plan (2020-2025)

New Jersey Nonpoint Source Management Program Plan (2015-2019)

DWMS is also responsible for coordinating certain facets of New Jersey's NPS Program with USEPA and other States to implement national nonpoint source management policies.

The DWMS also administers Water Quality Restoration Grants for Nonpoint Source Pollution, including federal Clean Water Act Section 319(h) NPS pollution control grants, and coordinates with the following programs as needed to implement the NPS Program and control water pollution attributed to nonpoint sources:

For more information, please contact Kimberly Cenno, Bureau Chief,
Bureau of Environmental Analysis, Restoration and Standards at (609) 633-1441.

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Last Updated: February 18, 2021