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Section 319 Nonpoint Source Pollution Program

Nonpoint Source Pollution: What is it, and what are we doing about it?

Nonpoint source (NPS) pollution occurs when rainfall or irrigation runs over land picking up pollutants and carrying them to rivers, lakes, and coastal waters. Unlike point source pollution, nonpoint source pollution is diffuse, making it difficult to identify and control the source of the problem.

The 1987 amendments to the Clean Water Act (CWA) established the Section 319 Nonpoint Source Management Program. Under this section of the CWA, states receive grant money each year that supports a wide variety of activities, including technical assistance, financial assistance, education, training, monitoring, and other efforts to minimize nonpoint source impacts on water quality. The Section 319 program is coordinated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on a national scale.

South Carolina receives an annual grant allocation from EPA to address nonpoint source pollution as described in the state's NPS Management Plan. Along with regulatory efforts, DHEC passes a portion of these funds to organizations to implement Watershed-Based Plans. These implementation grants are solicited periodically through a competitive process, and can be geared toward a variety of nonpoint source concerns that cannot be fully addressed through regulation. In addition, projects engage organizations to install on-the-ground Best Management Practices (BMPs), do public outreach, and combinations of these.

DHEC also encourages Watershed-Based Plan development in areas where nonpoint source pollution affects surface waters and drinking water intakes. In these cases, DHEC periodically solicits proposals to develop source water protection (SWP) based Watershed-Based Plans. The development of WBPs helps open up additional funding opportunities in that watershed, including 319 implementation projects.

For more information on the Section 319 NPS grant program contact Shakhlan Garane, garanesi@dhec.sc.gov.