Section 319 Non-point Source Pollution
Nonpoint source pollution (NPS), unlike pollution from industrial and sewage treatment plants, comes from many diffuse sources. A great deal of 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-made pollutants, finally depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters, and even our underground sources of drinking water. These pollutants include:
- Excess fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides from agricultural lands and residential areas;
- Oil, grease, and toxic chemicals from urban runoff and energy production;
- Sediment from improperly managed construction sites, crop and forest lands, and eroding streambanks;
- Salt from irrigation practices and acid drainage from abandoned mines;
- Bacteria and nutrients from livestock, pet wastes, and faulty septic systems;
Atmospheric deposition and hydromodification are also sources of nonpoint source pollution.
However, in Pennsylvania, the most significant source of NPS is from the mining activities of the past, particularly in the bituminous coal fields in the western part of the state and the anthracite fields in the east. Water making its we through surface refuse and underground voids left over from the mining process often finds its way to waterways. In many cases this water becomes contaminated and is then known as abandoned mine drainage (AMD). All AMD is classified as NPS.
Following the passage of the Clean Water Act, the country has made great strides in eliminating and reducing point source pollution. The states now report that nonpoint source pollution is the leading remaining cause of water quality problems. The effects of nonpoint source pollutants on specific waters vary and may not always be fully assessed. However, we know that these pollutants have harmful effects on drinking water supplies, recreation, fisheries, and wildlife.
In 1987 Congress amended the Clean Water Act (CWA) to establish the section 319 Nonpoint Source Management Program because it recognized the need for greater federal leadership to help focus State and local nonpoint source efforts. Under section 319, State, Territories, and Indian Tribes receive grant money which support a wide variety of activities including technical assistance, financial assistance, education, training, technology transfer, demonstration projects, and monitoring to assess the success of specific nonpoint source implementation projects.
Clean Water Act Section 319 from EPA web site