National Water Quality Goals Cannot Be Attained without More Attention to Pollution from Diffused or 'Nonpoint' Sources

CED-78-6: Published: Dec 20, 1977. Publicly Released: Dec 20, 1977.

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Nonpoint sources of pollution involve pollutants such as sediment, acid mine drainage, and pesticides carried into streams by storm runoff. Discharges of nonpoint pollution can occur anywhere along a water body in contrast to sources where the point of discharge is from a conduit; as a result, nonpoint sources are more difficult to control.

The best way to control nonpoint pollution is to prevent as much of it as possible from reaching the water through proper management of the land. More attention is needed to control this type of pollution because it can render streams unfit for fishing and swimming according to goals set for 1983. State and local agencies are not using adequate data for planning solutions to this problem. Since total funds for water pollution control are limited, better data are needed to set priorities and evaluate alternatives. The lack of data available on nonpoint sources of pollution is attributable to past and current emphasis on controlling point sources of pollution.

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