What is a Nonpoint Source Pollution?

water droplets on glass

To remain environmentally conscious and do our best to support environmental management, we must know the various types of pollution that can prove threatening to our world’s water sources. One of the forms of pollution causing the most immediate threat to the world’s aquatic environment is nonpoint source pollution (NPS). Unlike pollution from sewage and industrial treatment plants, nonpoint source pollution comes from various diffuse sources.

Today, Office H2O will be explaining what nonpoint source pollution is, how it impacts water sources, and what can be done to prevent it. With this information, we hope that you’ll have a greater understanding of this type of pollution.

Nonpoint Source Pollution Defined

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), nonpoint source pollution is a form of pollution that generally results from precipitation, land runoff, drainage, seepage, and atmospheric deposition. Nonpoint source pollution is caused either by snowmelt or rainfall moving over and through the ground. As this runoff moves, it picks up and transports natural and manmade pollutants before depositing them in bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, groundwaters, and coastal waters.

So, what does nonpoint source pollution look like? Allow us to provide a few examples:

  • Grease, oil, and toxic chemicals from energy production and urban runoff
  • Salt resulting from irrigation practices
  • Acid drainage from abandoned mines
  • Insecticides, fertilizers, and herbicides from both residential and agricultural areas
  • Bacteria and nutrients from livestock, faulty septic systems, and pet waste
  • Atmospheric deposition

The EPA says that states report that nonpoint source pollution is the number one leading cause of water quality problems in the United States. It is also important to note that the exact effects of nonpoint source pollution vary depending on the waters they pollute and aren’t always fully assessed. That being said, we have uncovered that such pollutants have harmful effects on fisheries and wildlife, recreation, and overall drinking water supplies.

The Impact of Nonpoint Source Pollution

Nonpoint source pollution impacts ecosystems, the economy, and the health and beauty of coastal areas and their waters. Apart from nonpoint source pollution being harmful, it’s also quite challenging to pinpoint an exact source. Typically, it’s difficult to point to one specific location of nonpoint source pollution as you could with a discharge pipe from a factory, for example.

When toxic chemicals are introduced to ecosystems via nonpoint source pollution, these compounds can have a dangerous impact on wildlife. Such compounds can negatively impact the health of aquatic life and humans. Worst of all, these compounds are often resistant to environmental breakdown, allowing them to persist in the environment and negatively impact the life they come into contact with.

Apart from its harmful impact on the world’s ecosystems and human health, nonpoint source pollution can lead to massive die-offs of fish and less-than-pristine water conditions, resulting in deep financial losses for coastal economies. The country’s coastal and marine waters support millions of jobs and generate billions of dollars in tourism, and recreational fishing and nonpoint source pollution can have significant impacts on these factors.

Additionally, nonpoint source pollution diminishes both the physical and environmental well-being of coastal areas. This results in people finding it less appealing to visit the coast. These pollutants cause beaches to offer a less tranquil experience to visitors than they once did, which has the potential to lead to a decline in tourism.

How to Fight Nonpoint Source Pollution

Now that you understand what nonpoint source pollution is as well as its various impacts, you may be wondering how it can be prevented. Luckily, there are several things that we can all do to reduce this form of pollution and protect water sources and the ecosystems that live within them. Here are a few of the ways to fight nonpoint source pollution based on the recommendations of the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District:

  • Limit the use of pesticides and fertilizer, using them only during the most appropriate time of year in recommended amounts
  • Take part in a stream cleanup program
  • Work to prevent property erosion by covering all bare soil with vegetation and mulch
  • Landscape yards to effectively minimize rainwater runoff
  • Remove all obstructions from stream channels
  • Revegetate stream banks
  • Pick up pet waste and bag it with regular household trash
  • Never intentionally dump something in a storm drain
  • Be sure to place retaining walls or diversions on steep, sloping ground to reduce the overall rate of both water flow and erosion
  • Ensure septic tanks are working properly

By doing your best to follow these recommendations, you can do your part to prevent nonpoint source pollution in your community!

Enjoy Fresh, Clean Water with Office H2O

Nonpoint source pollution is but one of many forms of water pollution that we should understand and work to prevent. These forms of pollution have negative impacts on human health, aquatic life, and the economy, and together we can work to reduce these harmful effects. The more we work to understand and prevent water pollution, the better chance we have to make a real difference. Access to clean drinking water is a human right, and we must all be willing to do more to make this a fact of life for all communities.

While a bottleless water system may not completely eliminate toxins (like those introduced through nonpoint source pollution) from your drinking water, the Environmental Working Group states that the gold standard for any in-house or in-office filtration system that removes toxins from your drinking water is a system that uses reverse osmosis filtration.

Our Office H2O bottleless water systems use state-of-the-art reverse osmosis or UF filter combination to enhance your drinking water through an advanced sanitation process! Our systems are not only cost-effective but eco-friendly, and you’ll be doing your part for the environment by using one in your home or office. Shop our selection today and enjoy access to fresh, clean water anytime!

Photo credit: Pixabay