Status quo federal policies fail to curb agricultural pollution
DeGood 2020 - director of Infrastructure Policy at American Progress
By Kevin DeGood October 27, 2020, 9:02 am “A Call to Action on Combating Nonpoint Source and Stormwater Pollution” https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/economy/reports/2020/10/27/492149/call-action-combating-nonpoint-source-stormwater-pollution/
Clean water is an essential element of a healthy and productive society. Unfortunately, federal water pollution control policy is deficient in two fundamental ways. First, the federal government does not prioritize combating nonpoint source (NPS) water pollutionand polluted urban runoff.1 Second, the federal government provides insufficient grant funding to state and local authorities for NPS pollution and polluted urban runoff control, choosing instead to provide the majority of federal assistance in the form of low-cost financing to municipal wastewater treatment authorities to improve point source pollution control. Prioritizing low-cost financing for municipal wastewater point source control—while incredibly important—has allowed the problem of nonpoint source pollution and polluted urban runoff to grow over time.2 According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), NPS pollution “is the leading remaining cause of water quality problems,”3 and the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services found that abouthalf of all water pollution comes from nonpoint sources.4 Nutrient runoff and sediment fromagricultural land is the largest source of NPS pollution. According to the EPA, more than 80,000 miles of rivers and streams are labeled as impaired due to nutrient pollution.5 And this estimate certainly undercounts actual impairment, since only 31 percent of the nation’s streams are tested.6 More than 2.5 million acres of lakes, reservoirs, and ponds are impaired due to nutrient pollution.7 In addition, polluted urban runoff is the fourth-largest source of pollution for rivers and streams and the third-leading source for lakes, ponds, and reservoirs.