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Nonpoint Source Runoff Pollution

What is NPS Runoff | Pollution Runoff Prevention | Newsletter | Links

What is Polluted Runoff?

Runoff pollution (technically known as nonpoint source pollution) occurs when rain or irrigation water flowing over hard surfaces, or loose soil, picks up pollutants and deposits them into the nearest lake, creek, estuary or groundwater supply.

In some areas polluted runoff is also known as storm water runoff. The Bureau of Water operates a storm water regulatory program for certain categories of storm water runoff.

Where Does it All Come From?

Everyone, in one way or another, is likely to contribute to polluted runoff.  What gets left on or near the street, washes down the stormdrain and out into your local creek or stream.  These creeks and streams come together and form the rivers and lakes from which we get our drinking water and enjoy recreational activities. Polluted runoff comes from many sources and can carry many contaminants. It may contain bacteria and nutrients from malfunctioning septic systems or animal waste, eroded soil from land disturbances, nutrients and pesticides from agricultural or urban areas, air pollutants from atmospheric deposition, and heavy metals and other toxins bound to soil particles. From the farm to the urban neighborhood, there is no lack of contaminants.

Reducing Polluted Runoff

We all contribute to runoff pollution. Everyone can have a part in reducing it.  Here are some of the things each of us can do to limit polluted runoff.

Around the Home

  • Properly maintain septic systems.
  • Purchase less toxic cleaners and properly dispose of cleaners and paints.
  • Bury or flush pet waste. Don't leave it on the street or sidewalk!
  • Sweep yard debris and trash out of the street.
  • NEVER pour paint, solvents or cleaners into a stormdrain.

Lawn & Garden

  • Use plants native to your area.  They often require less water and fertilizer.
  • Landscape so that plants can filter pollutants and slow runoff.
  • Keep fertilizers off of driveways and walkways.
  • Test soil to determine fertilization needs.
  • Compost leaves, grass and yard waste.
  • Cover bare soil with vegetation or mulch.


  • NEVER drain used motor oil or automotive fluids into stormdrains.
  • Service your car regularly.
  • Wash your car on the grass or at a car wash, otherwise dirty wash water flows into storm drains.
  • Clean up leaks.
  • Drive less.


Turning the Tide - South Carolina DHEC's NPS Newsletter

(Newsletter no longer in print)

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SC's Watershed Management Program
Source Water Protection Program
Phase II Stormwater Outreach Resources
SC's Nonpoint Source Management Program
(PDF 3.5MB)
SC's Nonpoint Source Annual Report (PDF 1.2MB)
Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials (NEMO)
Center for Watershed Protection
EPA Nonpoint Source Home Page
Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRSC)
Backyard Buffers for the South Carolina Lowcountry

Bureau of Water . Phone: (803) 898-4300 . Fax: (803) 898-3795 . Contact Us