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A METHODOLOGY TO EVALUATE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF NON-POINT SOURCE POLLUTION ABATEMENT PROGRAMS

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Abstract:

Nonpoint source pollution is the leading cause of impairment to our nation's water resources. Drinking and wastewater utilities affected by nonpoint source runoff are challenged to comply with federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and Clean Water Act (CWA) regulations. The diffuse nature of nonpoint source pollution challenges water utilities to develop and implement successful restoration and protection programs. It is even more difficult for water utilities to affect behavioral changes of those communities outside a utilities service area. Federal and state agencies offer nonpoint source pollution abatement programs that provide technical, financial and educational resources that can be used to affect changes necessary to achieve desired water quality goals. Collaborative partnerships enable water utilities to access these pollution abatement incentive programs. However, it is difficult to ascertain whether watershed-scale programs actually achieve water quality goals to help water utilities attain compliance with federal regulatory.

This paper presents an approach and case study to evaluate the effectiveness of nonpoint pollution abatement programs. The methodology focuses on understanding and tracking changes in land management activities at the farm field level. Model simulation results are aggregated in a geographic information system (GIS) and correlated with downstream water quality data maintained by a water utility. Elements of the methodology include: foster partnerships; information management systems; model evaluation and selection; characterize baseline conditions; and, program evaluation. The case study presents a source water protection program for the City of Columbus, Ohio (USA) where more than 1.5 million dollars of federal funding have been allocated to reduce atrazine runoff into the city's largest source of drinking water. Initial findings indicate that the nonpoint source pollution abatement program does reduce atrazine runoff into the city's water supply.

Results of this project will provide a national methodology demonstrating how watershed organizations can characterize water quality concerns, select appropriate BMPs and evaluate the effectiveness of restoration efforts at the field and watershed scales. This methodology can be applied to source water protection, storm water and total maximum daily load programs.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.2175/193864704790896784

Publication date: 2004-01-01

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