Nonpoint Source Program

Nonpoint Source Management

Nonpoint sources of water pollution are both diffuse in nature and difficult to define.  Nonpoint source pollution can generally be defined as the pollution caused by rainfall or snowmelt moving over and through the ground. As water moves over or through the soil, it picks up and carries away natural and man-made pollutants finally depositing them in lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters and ground waters.  The diffuse nature of nonpoint sources (e.g., agriculture, construction, mining, silviculture, urban runoff) and the variety of pollutants generated by them create a challenge for their effective control.

The largest obstacle in regulating the nation’s water quality is nonpoint source pollution.  The Federal Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting program regulates discharges of pollutants from point sources, which includes stormwater discharge and wastewater discharges from pipes, outlets and other discrete conveyances. The NPDES permitting program does not address nonpoint sources of pollution.

Nonpoint Source Management Plan

Georgia’s Statewide Nonpoint Source Management Plan provides EPD and other partners and stakeholders with specific long term goals and short term activities to address nonpoint source pollution and sustain good water quality.

Every five years, EPD reviews and revises the Statewide Nonpoint Source Management Plan (Plan). The Plan keeps the Nonpoint Source Management Program current and serves as an up-to-date tool for controlling and preventing pollution from nonpoint sources.

Current Approved Statewide Nonpoint Source Management Plan

Previous Statewide Nonpoint Source Management Plans

Nonpoint Source Implementation Grants

Georgia receives an annual grant under Section 319(h) of the Clean Water Act to help prevent, control and/or abate nonpoint source pollution in support of Georgia’s Nonpoint Source Management Plan. Georgia then conducts a competitive process to fund eligible projects that will lead to direct reductions in pollutant loads and measurable water quality improvements in impaired waters throughout the State.

Water Quality Trading

Water quality trading is a flexible approach that allows regulated point source dischargers the opportunity to partner with other point source or nonpoint source entities to reduce pollution. Point source and nonpoint source entities can earn water quality credits based on pollution reductions beyond those required by law or regulation. These credits can be purchased by a regulated point source discharger to achieve less costly pollutant reductions than if the discharger acted alone. The trade ultimately results in equal or greater reduction in pollution to a specific waterbody at a reduced cost to the regulated entity.  Water quality trading, specifically nutrient trading, has been the focus of substantial discussion and effort on both a national and regional level. Please visit the Download this pdf file. Water Quality Trading FAQ Sheet for more information about water quality trading in Georgia. 

Outreach and Educational Programs

Georgia Adopt-A-Stream

Adopt-A-Stream is Georgia's volunteer water quality monitoring program, which targets Georgia 5th graders through senior citizens. The program engages citizens in water protection activities through a series of educational workshops, training individuals on the physical, chemical and biological health of our waterways. Through 60 local partners, Adopt-A-Stream supports more than 200 groups in monitoring 500 sites, with thousands more participating across the state.  

Project WET

Project WET, Water Education for Teachers, targets formal and non-formal K-12 educators with the goals of facilitating and promoting awareness, appreciation, knowledge, and stewardship of water resources through the development and dissemination of classroom-ready teaching aids and the establishment of state and internationally sponsored programs.

Rivers Alive

Rivers Alive is Georgia's annual waterway cleanup targeting all rivers, lakes, wetlands and coastal waters with goals of creating awareness of and involvement in the preservation of Georgia's water resources. This year-round program culminates with a flurry of cleanups in the fall, attracting more than 25,000 volunteers who annually remove more than half a million pounds of trash from thousands of miles of Georgia waters.

River of Words

River of Words is an international poetry and art contest that encourages young people to use their creativity to express what they’ve learned about watersheds. Georgia boasts one of the top programs in the nation with 8,713 poetry and art submissions, 168 state award winners, 33 national finalists and two national grand prize winners in the last four years.