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Management Program for Nonpoint Source Water Pollution

Cleanup and prevention of water pollution from urban and other nonagricultural nonpoint sources (runoff).

The Nonpoint Source Management Program plans and implements activities designed to prevent or abate urban and other nonagricultural nonpoint source pollution in Texas waters.Partnering with you to protect and restore Texas rivers, lakes, and bays.

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, the 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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Management Program

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

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2017 Management Program

The 2017 Texas Nonpoint Source Management Program Adobe Acrobat PDF Document is now in final form, approved by the Texas Governor and the EPA. The previous version was approved by EPA in 2012. Significant events have occurred in the program since then, including implementation of the watershed action planning process to provide an important perspective on deciding how to address water quality issues in the state; rapid growth in the development and implementation of watershed protection plans for protection and restoration in Texas; enhanced coordination between the Nonpoint Source and Total Maximum Daily Load programs through the implementation of the §303(d) vision; increased coordination and project planning between state programs and partners; and substantial progress between the TCEQ, Texas General Land Office, EPA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in moving the state closer to full approval of the Texas Coastal Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Program. The state updated the program to incorporate these initiatives and to specify program goals for the upcoming planning period. You may order a printed copy of the document (#SFR-066/17) at the TCEQ Publications Page.

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. The program is also at work to restore many other impaired water bodies. See the Restoration section of the TCEQ Water Quality Program Successes  page, summarizing these accomplishments and providing links to the published Texas Success Stories.

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Public Education Resources

        • TCEQ NPS Education Materials
        • The EPA's Nonpoint Source Outreach Toolbox Exit the TCEQis intended for use by any organization interested in educating the public about pollution from runoff. The Toolbox contains:
          1. A robust search feature Exit the TCEQ to help you find the most applicable TV, radio or print materials in the Toolbox's product catalog to meet your specific nonpoint source/stormwater outreach needs
          2. Many materials—TV, radio, and print ads—on various nonpoint source and stormwater topics of concern
        • EPA's SepticSmart: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched “SepticSmart,” a new program encouraging homeowners to take steps to maintain their home septic systems, preventing costly repairs and pollution to local waterways. This national program also provides tools and materials for local and regional outreach programs. Projects funded by the TCEQ Nonpoint Source Program to provide homeowner outreach and training in regard to On-Site Sewage Facilities will be expected to make full use of these resources. For more information, visit SepticSmart.

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BMP Finder

The Draft BMP Finder is a supplement to the Best Management Practices (BMPs) section of the Management Program. The BMP Finder provides cross-references to standard terms, descriptions, technical guidance, and implementation considerations for NPS BMPs.

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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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