Nonpoint Source Planning

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Overview of Nonpoint Source Planning

Nonpoint source pollution, often referred to as polluted runoff, describes water that gathers pollutants after coming into contact with rooftops, roads, farm fields and other surfaces. This pollution is carried through groundwater and surface flow to our lakes, rivers and estuaries. Pollutants can be naturally occurring or anthropogenic and include sediments, nutrients and metals. Since Congress began investing heavily in improving wastewater treatment and other point sources of pollution the 1970s, nonpoint source pollution has emerged as the leading cause of water quality degradation in North Carolina and nationwide. Nonpoint source pollution harms the waters we use for fishing, swimming and drinking.

The Nonpoint Source Planning Branch leads the implementation of the State’s nonpoint source pollution management program using two complementary approaches.  First, the branch manages federal grant funds that support planning and restoration projects throughout North CarolinaThe grants managed by the unit are the 319(h) Nonpoint Source Grant and 205(j) Watershed Planning Grant.

Second, the branch leads the development, implementation, and oversight of regulatory nutrient strategies to restore North Carolina’s most strategically and economically valuable waters. Comprehensive nutrient strategies are in place to restore the Tar-Pamlico and Neuse Estuaries as well as Falls and Jordan Lakes.

Beyond these NPS initiatives managed directly by the branch, 319-funded and other staff in a range of units, divisions and departments of state government are engaged in the management of nonpoint source pollution stemming from various sources. The branch carries out USEPA’s charge for states to manage nonpoint source pollution in a planned and coordinated manner. This coordinated approach, involving the work of the branch, its partners and grantees, is guided by and captured in North Carolina’s Nonpoint Source Management Plan (2018).

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