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Texas Nonpoint Source Management Program

A document that describes the programs and practices that Texas uses to reduce and prevent water pollution from nonpoint sources, and highlights NPS Program milestones and achievements.

What Is Nonpoint Source Pollution?

Nonpoint source (NPS) pollution results when rainwater draining from the land and built surfaces erodes soil and/or picks up pollutants and carries them into streams, lakes, or other waterways.

In contrast, point sources of pollution usually release wastewater or stormwater at specific discharge points and typically operate under permits or rules requiring them to treat these flows before releasing them.

Nonpoint source pollution is difficult to control because it comes from everywhere, from all the everyday, mostly unregulated activities that expose soil to erosion and/or expose contaminants to rain, like homeowners fertilizing or applying pesticides to their lawns, people walking their dogs, and cars leaking oil.

Pollution can alter the integrity of water in one or more ways: chemical, physical, biological, or radiological. When the rate at which pollutants entering water bodies or groundwater exceeds their natural capacity to assimilate them, they may become impaired (fail to meet Water Quality Standards).

The large number of unregulated nonpoint sources make the voluntary efforts of citizens, businesses, service organizations, and other groups an essential part of the effort to address NPS pollution in Texas.

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The Watershed Approach

Protecting our water resources from the impacts of nonpoint source pollution is a complex challenge. Texas uses a watershed approach as its water quality management strategy to protect and restore water quality on a watershed basis. A watershed is the total geographic area that drains storm water (and pollutants) to a particular stream, lake, aquifer, or other water body. The watershed approach examines and addresses water quality concerns in each water body in the context of its watershed and all the potential sources of pollution the watershed contains.

The watershed approach operates under four principles:

  • Diverse, well integrated partnerships
  • A specific geographic focus(watershed)
  • Action driven by environmental objectives and by strong science and data
  • Coordinated priority setting and integrated solutions

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Texas Nonpoint Source Management Program

The Texas Nonpoint Source Management Program describes the programs and practices that the state uses to manage nonpoint source pollution in Texas. TCEQ and the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB) jointly update this comprehensive plan every five years.

Approved 2017 Texas Nonpoint Source Management Program

The 2017 Texas Nonpoint Source Management Program Exit the TCEQAdobe Acrobat PDF Document was adopted by the TCEQ Commission and approved by the Governor of Texas. Significant changes have been made in the program since then, including implementation of the watershed action planning process to coordinate and prioritize water quality management activities; rapid growth in the development and implementation of watershed protection plans; enhanced coordination between the Nonpoint Source and Total Maximum Daily Load programs; increased coordination and project planning between TCEQ and other state programs and partners; and substantial progress by TCEQ, Texas General Land Office, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in moving Texas closer to full approval of the Texas Coastal Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Program. 

Draft 2022 Texas Nonpoint Source Management Program

The Draft 2022 Texas Nonpoint Source Management Program was developed jointly by TCEQ and TSSWCB and accomplishes the following:

  • Incorporates the EPA's eight components of an effective program.
  • Establishes long- and short-term goals for the program.
  • Provides coordination of nonpoint source-related programs and activities conducted by federal, state, regional, and local entities.
  • Prioritizes assessment, planning, and implementation activities in priority watersheds and aquifers.

The Draft 2022 Texas Nonpoint Source Management Program was adopted by the TCEQ Commissioners on December 15, 2021 and has been sent to EPA for review and approval by the Governor’s office.

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Program Achievements

The Texas Nonpoint Source Program has contributed to the successful restoration of more than a dozen impaired water bodies in the state since 2008, when EPA began officially recognizing these successes and publishing them as success stories. These stories highlight NPS program activities to improve water quality. The NPS Program is also at work restoring many other impaired water bodies.

EPA approved one Success Story in 2020—Upper Cibolo CreekExit the TCEQ. See all Success Stories for TexasExit the TCEQ on EPA's website.

NPS 319 Success Stories MapNonpoint Source Success Stories Map

Individual Success Stories:

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Public Education Resources

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For More Information

To find out more about the NPS Program, call 512-239-6682 or e-mail us at nps@tceq.texas.gov.

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