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Arizona Nonpoint Source Pollution (14-AZ-a)

Nonpoint source pollution comes from many diffuse sources. Generally, nonpoint source pollution is caused by rainfall or snowmelt moving over and through the ground, which picks up pollutants and ultimately deposits them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, and underground aquifers. Typical pollutants that cause nonpoint source pollution include:
  • Excess fertilizer and pesticides;
  • Oil, grease, and toxic chemicals from urban runoff and energy production;
  • Sediment from unprotected construction sites, crop and forest lands, and eroding stream banks;
  • Salt from irrigation practices and acid drainage from abandoned mines; and
  • Bacteria and nutrients from livestock, pet wastes, and faulty septic systems.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency funds state and tribal efforts to reduce nonpoint source pollution through the Section 319 Nonpoint Source Management Program under the Clean Water Act, which provides grants to states and tribes to reduce nonpoint source pollution.

The Arizona Nonpoint Source Program is administered by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ). The ADEQ gathers information, monitors water quality trends, and focuses on runoff from land use activities that impact surface and groundwater within the state.

The Arizona Nonpoint Source Management Plan integrates the state's Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act programs with voluntary incentives. The ADEQ uses a combination of tools to protect the state's water resources from nonpoint source pollution. These include:

  • Surface and Groundwater Monitoring;
  • Watershed Inventories;
  • Watershed Characterizations;
  • Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Studies;
  • TMDL Implementation Plans;
  • Watershed-based Plans; and
  • Water Quality Improvement Projects.

Nonpoint Source Pollution Process

14-AZ-a.1 – Consult with ADEQ on TMDLs and BMPs

Developers are encouraged to consult with the ADEQ in order to determine whether the project is within a watershed subject to TMDL restrictions and/or applicable Best Management Practices. If the project is in an applicable watershed, developers are strongly encouraged to abide by TMDL restrictions and to utilize BMPs.

14-AZ-a.2 – Contact Local Watershed Effort (if applicable) for Watershed Improvement Plans

In addition to consulting with the ADEQ, developers are encouraged to contact local government agencies that have created and implement Watershed Improvement Plans (WIPs). The ADEQ will be able to refer developers to the applicable local government agency in applicable cases.

For more information, consult the ADEQ Nonpoint Source State Management Plan.

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