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An Introduction to NC’s Water Quality Program and *Nonpoint Source Pollution. Division of Water Quality WQ Planning Branch NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources. * Also known as Runoff Pollution. Overview of Presentation. Growth issues in NC Affecting NPS Pollution
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Division of Water Quality
WQ Planning Branch
NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
* Also known as Runoff Pollution
NC’s population has been doubling every 50 years for the past 200 years! What will be the impact of 8 million more people by 2050?
Source: USDA NRCS
Protect and Restore uses of North Carolina’s surface waters.
Outstanding Resource Waters (ORW)
Point Sources and
Comes from a pipe, discrete point or ditch. Generally associated with a wastewater discharge but includes urban or industrial stormwater discharges
Pollution reaching waterways from rainfall runoff, atmospheric deposition and groundwater flow. Impacts result from cumulative effects of many small activities. (*Also known as Runoff Pollution)
If not done properly, this can result in:
Construction and GradingThe major runoff pollution pollutant is sedimentation. Sediment control measures need to be properly designed, installed and maintained until the site is stabilized. Problems can also result fro improperly handling fuel and chemicals at construction sites.
Urban stormwaterA major impact is runoff from impervious surfaces which erodes streams and destroys aquatic habitat is the major impact from urban stormwater. Urban runoff also carries high fecal coliform levels from pet and wildlife wastes, fertilizer and pesticides from yards and landscaped areas, auto-related pollutants such as oil, grease, and abraded tire material, and pollutants contained in atmospheric deposition.
AgricultureImpacts come from cropland and animal operations. Common pollutants are sediment, nutrients and fecal coliform bacteria (animal operations). Agriculture is the leading source of nonpoint source pollution in NC although it should be noted that this impact is shrinking as ag land is converted to development and as sediment control measures such as no-till farming become more widespread.
Land disposal of wastewaterThis includes onsite wastewater systems (e.g., septic systems), spray irrigation, sludge disposal and landfills.
Silviculture (Forestry)Forest cover is generally excellent for protection of water quality. However, water quality problems can occur from improper harvesting techniques such as clearing next to streams and not using adequate BMPs for sediment control . In eastern NC, ditching, which changes the nature hydrology, also adversely impacts water quality by increasing the rate of runoff
Atmospheric DepositionThe atmosphere is a significant source of water pollution. This includes acid rain, nitrogen compounds (which come from cars, industry and animal operations and contribute to nutrient overenrichment and algal blooms) and mercury (which has resulted in fish consumption advisories across NC , particularly in the Coastal Plain).
Marinas and Recreational BoatingRunoff pollution comes primarily from paved areas and service yards, oil and gas leakage, and improper disposal of human wastes.
Algae Blooms and Aquatic WeedsComes from an excess of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus from both point and nonpoint sources
Fish kills (most often resulting from low dissolved oxygen associated with algal blooms and/or hot weather)
Habitat degradationMostly a nonpoint source problem resulting from improperly performed land disturbing activities (such as construction, farming and forestry which allow excessive sediment runoff) and post development stormwater runoff in urban areas (which increases the flow of stormwater and erodes stream channels)
Closed shellfish watersCaused by pathogen contamination as indicated by high levels of fecal coliform bacteria. The bacteria come mostly from runoff in developed areas containing wildlife and pet wastes. Can also come from leaking sewer systems and pump stations, improper sewage treatment, failing septic systems and improperly handled farm animal wastes.
Unsafe swimming conditionsResults from pathogen contamination as evidenced by elevated levels of fecal coliform bacteria. Can come from a variety of sources including wildlife and pet wastes, leaking sewer systems and pump stations, improper sewage treatment, failing septic systems and improperly handled farm animal wastes.
Biological and chemical water
quality testing is done by DWQ as shown in the
following slides to determine whether waters are supporting the intended uses
This technique utilizes the varying
pollutant sensitivities among different
aquatic organisms, such as aquatic
insect larvae, as a water quality indicator.
Assessing the types and numbers of
species gives an indication of water
Assessing the numbers, diversity
and health of fish communities is
another way to assess water
quality. Tissues of fish are also
sampled to determine whether
they are safe to eat.
Chemical water quality sampling is performed monthly at almost 400 stations around the state in streams, lakes and salt waters. Many parameters are studied such as pH, metals, bacteria, dissolved oxygen and others. This sampling helps DWQ determine water trends and problem areas.
DWQ’s lab analyzes
ambient and other water
Wastewater treatment plants discharge
pollutants known as oxygen-consuming
wastes. This includes organic matter
that decomposes in the water column
and takes up dissolved oxygen needed
by other aquatic life.
Divers place devices on the bottom of
selected waterways to measure the
amount of dissolved oxygen removed
from the water column by bottom-
dwelling bacteria and through chemical
processes. This information is used by
computer modelers to determine the
level of treatment required at waste-
water treatment plants to protect the
waters and aquatic life.
in North Carolina?
...but 16.4% are impaired, or not supporting their uses
2000 miles of
impaired streams that
need to be restored
*Based on monitored streams
Source: 1998-99 305(b) Report
Source: 1998-99 305(b) report
Source: 1998-99 305(b) Report
NC Division of Water Quality
1617 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1617