ckling Ndnpoint
                               Water Pollution
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Tackling  Nonpoint
Water  Pollution
                                                Conservation tillage to reduce .soil
                                                disturbance and runoff in Carrol]
                                                County, MD. Using a method called
                                                "double cropping", farmers can
                                                simultaneously plant a new crop as fhe
                                                old one is harvested.
  It was once widely believed
  tlnit we could achieve clean
water by stopping the;
pollution coining out of the
pipes of waste dischargers,
Today we know thai
successful water cleanup
must also deal with so-called
"nonpoint" sources, which
range from soil erosion to
runoff from city streets. 'This
issue of the I'.'I'A Journal
examines nonpoint source
water pollution.
  Leading off the issue, KPA
Administrator Let: M.
Thomas discusses what it
will take  to control nonpoinl
source pollution. The
Agency's Assistant
Administrator for Water,
Lawrence J. Jensen, describes
nonpoint source pollution
and the essential role of
individuals in cleaning it up.
  Some efforts are already
under way around the
country to control  nonpoint
runoff. One feature reports on
Wisconsin's experience with
a special control program:
another describes an
innovative approach to
handling urban nonpoint
sources in Bellevue, WA.
Also featured  is  an article
about the establishment  of a
buffer /.one to diminish the
flow of runoff pollutants  into
Chesapeake Hay, and a report
on a mobile laboratory being
used in Pennsylvania to help
farmers use fertilizer more
selectively and thus curb
  Payoffs from efforts to save
inland lakes from pollution
runoff are described in  an
article focusing on lake
cleanup  in the Midwest.
Pollution in Kesterson
Wildlife Refuge in California
is discussed as an example of
severe nonpoint source
problems. The dramatic
reduction of nonpoint source
pollution in a Utah reservoir
that supplies drinking water
and provides recreation is
  Major  new incentives in
the 1985 U.S.  farm law
which could lead to a big
reduction in nonpoint
pollution from farms are
explained and another report
profiles a demonstration
project aimed at tracing
agricultural runoff as it
affects ground water in the
Big Spring Basin in Iowa.
  In a Journal forum, eight
experts offer their views on a
widely debated question:
What level of government
should be responsible for the
cleanup  of nonpoint source
  Concluding the issue are
two regular features—Update
and Appointments, a

                               United States
                               Environmental Protection
                               Office of
                               Public Affairs (A-107)
                               Washington DC 20460
                               Volume 12
                               Number 4
                               May 1986
                          &EPA JOURNAL
                               Lee M. Thomas, Administrator
                               Jennifer Joy Wilson, Assistant Administrator for External Affairs
                               Linda Wilson Reed, Director, Office of Public Affairs

                               John Heritage, Editor
                               Susan Tejada, Associate Editor
                               Jack Lewis, Assistant Editor
                               Margherita Pryor, Contributing Editor
EPA is charged by Congress to pro-
tect the nation's land, air, and
water systems. Under a mandate of
national, environmental laws, the
agency strives to formulate and im-
plement actions which lead to a
compatible balance between hu-
man activities and the ability of
natural systems to support and
nurture life.
  The EPA Journal is published by
the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency. The Administrator of EPA
has determined that the publica-
tion of this periodical is necessary
in the transaction of the public
business required by law of this
agency. Use of funds for printing
this periodical has been approved
by the Director of the Office of
Management and  Budget. Views
expressed by authors do not neces-
sarily reflect EPA policy. Contribu-
tions and inquiries should be ad-
dressed to the Editor (A-107),
Waterside Mall, 401 M St., S.W.,
Washington, B.C.  20460. No per-
mission necessary to reproduce
contents except copyrighted photos
and other materials.
Why Worry About
Nonpoint Pollution?
by Lee M. Thomas  2

How People Matter
in Nonpoint Cleanup
by Lawrence J. Jensen  3

Wisconsin Rallies
Against Runoff Pollution
by Jeff Smoller  5

Nonpoint Pollution:
It's Urban, Too
by Pam Bissonnette  6
Using Buffer Zones
to Battle Pollution
by J. Kevin Sullivan
Managing "Tail End"
Pollution on the Farm
by Larry R. Nygren,
Dale E. Baker, and
Christina M. Hunt  10

Inland Lakes Cleanup
Gets a Boost
by Kip Blevin   11

Nonpoint Nightmare
by Roy Popkin  13

A "Fitting Solution"
at Snake Creek, Utah
by David Wann   15
New Farm Law
Encourages Cleanup
by Wilson Scaling
and Milton Hertz  17

"Fingerprinting" Pollution
at Iowa's Big Spring
by Julie ElfVing 19

Nonpoint Control:
A Forum  20

Update  24

Appointments   24
                               Front cover: Aerial view of the
                               Chesapeake Bay area.
                               Photo by Cameron Davidson,
                               Folio, Inc.
                               Design Credits:
                               Robert Flanagan;
                               Ron Farrah.
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Why  Worry  About
Nonpoint  Pollution?
 by Lee M. Thomas
     Over the past decade we have
     established, at great cost, an
 efficient system to control industrial
 liquid waste and municipal sewage. We
 have revived many lakes  and streams
 that had seemed beyond resuscitation.
 Since 1972, of 354,000 stream miles on
 which we  have information,  some 13
 percent have improved, about three
 percent have declined, and the rest have
 stayed the same.
   So it seems we are holding the line
 against water pollution. Considering the
 rise of economic: activity  and population
 during the interim, this is an impressive
 accomplishment. But it is not good
 enough.  We've lost some momentum
 and accomplished less than we set out
 to do. The (Mean Water Act doesn't tell
 us to just hold  the line. It requires us to
 make the nation's waters literally
 fishahle  and swimmable.
 Nonpoint pollution is the
 direct result of our past
 land-use habits.
   Much of the reason for our failure to
 reach this goal is that we have not
 controlled nonpoint source pollution.
 Six out of ten EPA regions say that
 nonpoint sources are the main cause of
 poor water quality. And there is
 increasing evidence that nonpoint
 source pollution is a threat to ground
   It is hard to single out specific
 nonpoint polluters because they are
 spread  all over the landscape: farmers,
 developers, all of us. Nonpoint
 pollution is the direct result of our past
 land-use habits, so a solution  will only
 emerge through more efficient and
 rational means of land management.
   EPA  intends to do all it can to help
 federal agencies address  nonpoint
 problems on lands under their
 jurisdiction. However, direct federal
 regulation has never been a major factor
 in local land-use decisions. Indeed, any
        s is Administrator of EPA.}
attempt at control from Washington
would be an administrative nightmare.
And the financial resources would be
impossible to come by under current
  Fortunately, the nonpoint problem is
being recognized in many different parts
of the nation, both by state and local
governments and the private sector.
  Wisconsin has an innovative
cost-sharing program to ensure water
quality in selected watersheds through
the control  of both urban and rural
nonpoint sources. Vermont helped set
up a system of self-policing by the
lumber industry, with heavy emphasis
on technical assistance, education, and
continuous  monitoring of industry
practices. Bellevue, WA,  is controlling
runoff in developing areas.
  In Oregon, grassroots collaboration by
oystermen and dairy operators has
introduced  best  management practices
(BMPs) at over half of the Tillamook
Bay area's dairies. Shellfish bed closures
are much less frequent and coliform
counts in streams draining into the bay
have dropped significantly.
  I could mention dozens of similar
cases, but I'd like to see thousands more
like them. We're trying to do our part.
EPA's Nationwide Urban Runoff
Program has helped 26 metropolitan
areas to  control  nonpoint sources with
new, creative measures.  We are
cooperating with the Department of
Agriculture to implement the Rural
Clean Water Program, installing BMPs
in 20 pilot watersheds across the
country. We are supporting nonpoint
source demonstration projects in the
basins of the Great Lakes and
Chesapeake Bay.
  In addition, EPA formed an
interagency task force that
recommended a new national policy on
nonpoint pollution  in December 1984 to
protect surface-  and ground-water
resources. Each  federal agency on the
task force developed its own nonpoint
strategy, and those strategies are now
gradually being  implemented.
  Coordination and re-orientation of
existing resources are essential if we are
to have any chance  at all of coping with
this problem. About $10 billion was
spent on resource and environmental
protection during the  last fiscal year by
the Corps of Engineers, the Soil
Conservation Service, the Forest
Service, the Bureau of Land
Management, and other federal agencies.
Surely we can refocus these resources to
help control nonpoint pollution: the
potential leverage is incalculable. States
and localities should certainly insist
that federal agencies accelerate their
efforts. EPA will heartily support such
state and local nonpoint initiatives.
Nonpoint control demands the
courage to persist and not just
throw up  our hands because
the fob is so immense.
  I am cautiously optimistic at this
point. The water protection professions
are becoming more adaptable and
imaginative, and we anticipate many
more interdisciplinary efforts like our
Chesapeake Bay project targeted to a
variety of point  and nonpoint problems
on various scales from neighborhoods to
whole regions.
  We expect substantial continuing
evolution at EPA, too. For the past
decade we have concentrated on major
engineering programs to control sewage
and industrial pollution. Now the
challenge is in devising better means of
public education, technical assistance,
and social innovation to address
multidimensional problems. We
confront a diffuse, problematical task of
mobilizing institutional resources and
community commitment. Nonpoint
control demands political  or
organizational savvy of a very high
order, plus  the courage to  persist and
not just throw up our hands because the
job is so immense.
  Looking at how far we have come
already,  I know  we're going to  hang in
there until we reach our goal.
Environmental protection  is never easy.
But by the year  2000, in EPA's 30th
year, I trust we will be looking back
with great satisfaction on a job well
done, n
                                                                                                      EPA JOURNAL

How  People  Matter
in  Nonpoint  Cleanup
by Lawrence J. Jensen
USDA Soil Conservation Service
   Recently, I had the opportunity to
    tour the area around Heber City,
Utah. Heber City is nestled in a verdant
valley in the Wasatch Range at one end
of Provo Canyon. The Provo River
rushes through the valley, supplying
this picturesque farming town with the
water required to keep the valley green
and productive. Dairy farming is also a
major activity here—Heber Valley dairy
products are famous throughout the
intermountain West—and several dairies
are located  directly on the many streams
that carry runoff from the nearby
mountains into the Provo River.
  After the  Provo River completes its
run through the Heber Valley, it empties
into Deer Creek Reservoir. Waters stored
here supply upwards of 30 percent  of
f/ensen is EPA's Assistant
Administrator/or Water.)

MAY 1986
Lack of proper grading and stabilizing
measures led to constant erosion ami
sediment deposits in this subdivision.
Runoff from such everyday activities 
Lake water-quality officials, although
efforts are under way to solve the
problem and are meeting with success
(see story on page 15).
  By describing water use in a rural
setting like Heber,  I do not mean to
suggest that pollution resulting from
productive, diverse, everyday human
activity is only a rural or agricultural
problem. Road grime, cleansed from city
streets by showers  and snows, consists
of all sorts of noxious pollutants and is
but one example of vvaterhorne,
water-threatening pollution that results
from everyday living in the city.
  The similarity, then, between the
urban and rural versions of this
pollution is  that they both result from
everyday human activity. And they an;
introduced into our environment from
diverse and  diffuse sources. No matter
when; it occurs, pollution such as 1
have described  is characterized by  the
fact that it does not emanate from
specific pipes or other identifiable  point
sources. For this reason, it has
collectively come to be known
euphemistically as "nonpoint source"
  I'iven though 45 states have identified
nmipoint sources of pollution as
creating water quality problems in  their
states, actual nonpoint polluters in each
of these stales  are,  in most cases,
individuals going about their business
in routine,  day-to-day fashions. Control
of this  pollution requires regulators at
every level ot government to answer the
question: "How can we entice these
individuals to manage their activities
and their everyday lives in such a  way
that nonpoint pollution  is abated?"
  Then: is no doubt that controlling
nonpoinl pollution will require resolve
by individuals in individual settings.
Nevertheless, EPA  has done much
toward increasing awareness and
providing assistance whenever and
wherever it can. One area in which EPA
has been active is federal facilities
management. The federal government
controls millions of acres of land in
both rural and urban settings. This
provides a steward accountable for
activities that take  place on these lands.
I feel strongly that federal facilities
should fulfill their stewardships in
exemplary fashion. Only as this is done
will nonpoint pollution from these
facilities be controlled,
The similarity,  then, between
the urban and rural versions
of this pollution is that they
both result from everyday
human activity.
  In that regard, in March of 1984 EPA
convened a federal/state/local Nonpoint
Source Task Force which issued its final
report last January. Already, there has
been significant progress. Here are some
• The Secretary of Defense and the
Administrator of EPA signed a joint
resolution promising cooperation
between the two agencies in abating
pollution in the Chesapeake Bay area.
Over 60 military installations covering
approximately 400,000 acres in Virginia,
Maryland, Pennsylvania and the District
of Columbia are affected by the
resolution. Benefits of this agreement
are just  beginning to be realized as the
bay makes its comeback.
• The Army Corps of Engineers is
currently reviewing the training
materials used  in over  200 courses to
assure that they incorporate materials
related to nonpoint source pollution.
The Corps hopes to play a leadership
role in designs for nonpoint pollution
control  through its civil construction

• The U.S. Forest Service is working
with individual states to ensure program
coordination between Forest Service
activities and state water quality
• An assessment of the 201 counties in
the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)
region found that in  80 of these counties
water quality was reduced due to
agricultural activities. TVA also cited
65,000 acres of abandoned coal and
non-coal mine lands as probable sources
of nonpoint pollution.  Authorities are
now focusing on the worst offenders.
  Several states have shown that they
are willing to take on the challenge of
nonpoint pollution control. Sixteen
states and the Discrict of Columbia have
regulatory programs to address
construction site runoff, and all coal
mining states have regulatory programs
under the Surface Mining Control and
Reclamation Act.  Urban runoff, filled
with exhaust residues,  oils, salts, and
many other noxious substances, is  being
controlled through local regulations in
several states.
  I have stressed that individuals can
make a difference, and I want to
conclude by reiterating this point. State,
local, and federal authorities can place
some restrictions  and controls on large
and blatant offenders such as
construction sites and airports. But,
ultimately, the control  of nonpoint
source pollution will require
individuals to make wise decisions in
their everyday lives.
  Whether in rural settings or in dense
urban centers, our decisions to control
the fumigation and fertilization of our
lawns, our decisions to conserve water
around the house, our decisions to use
environmentally safe detergents when
we wash our cars and clothes, our
decisions to fix the oil  leaks in our cars,
in short,  our decisions  whether or not to
properly  manage our activities and land
uses will ultimately determine the
extent to which nonpoint pollution will
be controlled.
  Water is  one of the most basic
building  blocks of our civilization and
culture. But it can also transport almost
any pollutant introduced into it. For a
long time, we ignored this and polluted
our waters  almost mercilessly. We  have
made great strides in reversing that
trend and are heading toward restoring
our waters  to "fishability,"
"swimmability," and "drinkability."
Unless we  turn  our energies and
convictions toward controlling the
nonpoint pollution that is a natural
byproduct of our daily  activities, we
may jeopardize  that progress, Q
                                                                                                           EPA JOURNAL

Wisconsin  Rallies
Against  Runoff  Pollution
by Jeff Smoller
  In the late 1960s, western Wisconsin
   fishermen in the know had the
lowdown on Vance Creek: it might be
rated as a class one trout stream but it
definitely was not the place to go for
first  class action. Vance Creek was the
victim of nonpoint source pollution.
   A  survey by the Wisconsin
Department of Natural Resources
summarized the causes: seven
significant  livestock operations, six
miles of eroding streambank,  more than
200 acres of stream-bordering cropland
losing more than four tons of soil an
acre  per year. No wonder brown and
brook trout populations were in trouble.
   In  1978, the Wisconsin Legislature
found its efforts to fund and enforce
ugraded point source pollution
abatement were attacking only half the
problem. In fact, urban interests that
were making  their own wastewater
treatment systems improvements felt  it
was  time their rural cousins joined the
fight for clean water. With strong
support from  professional, urban, and
business interests, the Wisconsin Fund
Nonpoint Source Pollution Abatement
Program was  created. Eight years later it
is recognized as one of the country's
more successful and creative nonpoint
source efforts.
   The Wisconsin program is built on
the extensive survey, planning,  and
coordinating work initiated under
Section 208 of the federal Clean Water
Act.  It  provides significant amounts of
state dollars to help private landowners
install  the land management practices
needed to reduce runoff.
   The program relies on  interagency
cooperation and citizen involvement to
overcome some of the psychological and
institutional barriers that have long
plagued nonpoint programs. For
example, while there are clear criteria
for selecting which watersheds merit
"priority" status, the specific
recommendations that trigger funding
come not from "on high" but  from
representative regional and statewide
advisory groups.
   Projects are implemented locally, not
 (SmoJIer is Director of the Burc.au of
 Information in the Wisconsin
 Department of Natural Resources.)
at the state level. Municipalities and
land conservation committees, acting on
behalf of their county boards,
administer and carry out the projects.
Responsibility is divided among local,
state, and federal interests. Financial
resources and credit are shared.
  "If you're looking for a neat and clean
package with centralized control, you'd
better look elsewhere," explained state
nonpoint coordinator John Konrad. "But
if you want to see a working program in
which local people have ownership,
we think we have something good."
  That "something good" has already
given Wisconsin a return on its
investment though the  nonpoint
program is less than 10 years old.
 Soil loss on  the targeted
 cropland acres has been
  Since 1979, the program has
identified 29 priority watersheds where
planning has begun or actual on-land
improvements are in place. They are
clustered in a region that stretches from
Green Bay on the northeast,  to the
Illinois state line on the south, to the St.
Croix River on the west.
  Although this region contains 130
watersheds where erosion and
contaminant runoff threaten water
resources, "we realized early on that we
needed to target our attention," Konrad
continued. "We  couldn't shotgun it.
There simply wasn't enough money or
enough time to do everything for
  Konrad emphasized that, while much
of the initial attention was focused on
the rural nonpoint problems, urban and
suburban efforts are under way as well.
  In  the Milwaukee area, for example,
the Department  of Natural Resources
(DNR) is spearheading a cleanup that
local officials hope will mesh with a
multi-million dollar  point source
program. The ultimate payoff will be a
further revitalized downtown tied to the
city's river system and fabulous
  In  the Madison area, a critical
watershed to the west of the capital
city's largest and most treasured
lake—Lake Mendota—has made the
cleanup list.
  Important  new breakthroughs also are
being tested. In the famous Door County
vacation region, nonpoint land
management practices will be tied to a
ground-water protection scheme
required because of the area's thin soil
layer on top of fractured bedrock.
  While the state and local team has a
long list of management practices
eligible for cost-sharing, only those
practices that are best suited for local
conditions are selected. So the
Wisconsin program avoids past pitfalls
that sometimes resulted in land
managers using conservation aids to
promote production goals, not
  "While Wisconsin has  made a
significant dollar commitment  to
nonpoint pollution control." Konrad
said, "we want to make every dollar
count for as much as  it can, So we  work
hard to target and tailor the practices to
meet local conditions."
  In the Vance Creek case, for  example,
90 percent of the livestock units
determined to be a source of the
pollution problem are now under
cost-share agreements funding waste
control measures. Some 68 percent of
the most erodible streambank has been
or is being fenced. Soil loss on the
targeted cropland acres has been halved.
  The  resulting improvement in the
Vance  Creek water quality has been
  The  number of brown trout identified
during a DNR stream stocking  survey
increased by 40 percent in two years.
For brook trout, the increase was even
more dramatic: a 250 percent increase
in fingerlings and a 900 percent increase
in adults.
  The  fish manager's report in 1983 said
the Vance Creek gain represented "a
good trout fishery in terms of both
number and size." And, although "there
could be many reasons for this change,
such as natural fluctuations, then; is a
visible improvement in fish habitat and
it is very likely that some of the
improvement is because of the fencing"
  The  Vance Creek story, liko the rest of
Wisconsin's nonpoint story, is still
incomplete, however. Some individuals
within the watershed are still not
participating, and local persuasiveness
will have to be called upon again.
  This time, Konrad muses, perhaps the
delighted local trout anglers can help
provide new, even more persuasive
arguments to bring the remaining
non-participants into  the Vance Creek
cleanup effort. Q
MAY 1986

Nonpoint  Pollution
It's  Urban,  Too
by Pam Bissonnette
   Gas and electric, sewer and
   water—utilities to most people are
simply the grungy and expensive
underpinnings of modern life. But in
Bellevue, WA, our utilities have gone
beyond meters and pipes to include
streams, lakes, and wetlands. Thanks to
our unique urban storm water program,
Bellovue citizens may be the only city
dwellers in the country who can take
the day off to fish in the drainage
  The Bellevue Storm and Surface
Water (SSW) Utility was established in
1974 because! of citizen concern that we
wen; losing our cherished network of
city streams and lakes. Its mission was
to manage storm and surface water to
protect water quality, prevent property
damage, preserve and enhance wildlife
habitat, and provide for the health,
safety, and enjoyment of citizens. This
was no small task, but we think we're
succeeding. Not only have there been no
fish kills for  the last couple of years, but
salmon are once more  running in our
city streams.
  Bellevue is a relatively young city.
That means we don't have the problem
of combined storm/sewer systems. What
we do have is  a lot of land
development—which means buildings,
parking lots, and roads. These
impervious surfaces  cannot absorb
precipitation. Instead, rainfall rushes
into receiving waters during storms,
causing flooding and erosion. And
because it isn't filtered slowly through
the soil, the runoff also carries
pollutants picked up from the surface
over  which it travels and from rainfall
in the atmosphere. The result is clogged,
polluted waterways.
(Bissonni'ltc is /)in;clor ol (lie .Storm
rind Surfcicf; Water Utility in  He/Jevue
  Bellevue's Storm and Surface Water
Utility was created to address these
problems. Essentially a regulated
drainage system, it consists of an
integrated network of pipes and stream
channels to carry the runoff, and a
series of lakes, wetlands, ponds, and
detention basins to store it. Our basic
concept  is to use the natural surface
water drainage system to carry and
dispose of runoff without degrading the
natural habitat.
In Bellevue, WA, our utilities
have gone beyond meters and
pipes to include streams,
lakes, and wetlands.
  Just like conventional utilities, the
SSW is financed through service charges
and bond issues, and its rates and
budgets are reviewed by an advisory
commission to the city council. Unlike
other utilities, however, our SSW is
heavily involved in land-use planning
issues, particularly for sensitive
  SSW's major source of revenue is a
utility service charge, based on an
assessment of each property's
contribution of runoff to the drainage
system; where controls have been
established on a property,
commensurate rate reductions are
granted. All properties, including
undeveloped and publicly owned
property, participate in the service
  During its first five years, the SSW
focused almost exclusively on erosion
control and runoff volume and velocity.
In the course of developing our
programs, however, we realized that we
needed more and better data on regional
weather and land forms and on storm
runoff quality controls. When EPA's
National Urban  Runoff Program (NURP)
began in 1979, Bellevue asked to join
the study.
  Bellevue was one of 27 cities
nationwide that participated in NURP.
For six years, we  monitored runoff for
sources of contamination and effects on
receiving waters,  particularly  Kelsey
Creek. We instituted practices such as
street sweeping, drainage system
maintenance, and runoff detention and
compared them for their effects on
water quality.
  What we found for Bellevue was
surprising: street  surfaces and the
drainage system were not the  major
sources of sediment or pollutants to
receiving waters,  and neither  street
sweeping nor drainage system cleaning
nor on-site detention basins had any
measurable effect on water  quality.
Receiving waters  instead were found to
suffer more from  frequent high flows,
stream scour and  erosion,
sedimentation,  and direct dumping of
toxic materials  than from any other
causes. It was the habitat adjacent to the
streets and drainage channels that was
causing the majority of the  problems.
We had to look beyond  the typical
public works practices to develop
source controls, in-stream quantity and
quality controls, and even runoff
  Because of our  strong commitment to
maintaining and  enhancing water
quality, we've amended the city's
comprehensive plan to reflect these
needs. The plan designates  and ranks
beneficial uses  for various bodies of
water and provides guidance  for
land-use  planning. Most importantly,  it
also backs up policy with a strict
inspection and  maintenance program.
  One of our best examples of how the
plan is working is a  business
park built by the  Boeing Corporation.
Covering 155 acres, it's  a compendium
of state-of-the-art  runoff controls,
including artificial wetlands,  oil
separators, secondary containment
systems, detention ponds, and
                                                                                                       EPA JOURNAL

emergency contingency plans. Since it
was built, the system has held up well
under two "hundred-year" storms.
  By developing a plan early, we were
able to anticipate federal regulations
controlling the discharge of urban
runoff. These regulations basically apply
the permit requirements of the National
Pollutant Discharge Elimination System
(NPDES) to urban storm water. With our
plan in place, we expect to receive our
permit this year.
  But we still have a lot of work. We are
currently revising and upgrading our
routine sampling program and
instrument sampling stations. We need
to increase our maintenance of
detention facilities for runoff from
publicly owned property. And, while
we already inspect private detention
systems for operation and maintenance,
we want to expand inspection to all
aspects of private drainage system
  We've also been inventorying all
elements of the drainage system for the
city's Automatic Mapping and Planning
System (AMPS). Our geo-data base
already includes locations, elevations,
conditions, and maintenance history,
and will eventually include land-use
and water-quality data. We will also
begin a study to determine
representative  loadings from different
land uses. This information,  along with
the continuous rainfall and flow records
                                                                               A fish ladder in K'elsey Creek in
                                                                               Believue, VV'A. The stream also doubles
                                                                               as part of the city's storm ivater
                                                                               drainage system. The city lias tried to
                                                                               maximize the. use of natural  streams lor
                                                                               its drainage system, ivhile maintaining
                                                                               their natural beauty and reducing
                                                                               nonpuint source pollution.
                                                                               we already maintain, will eventually
                                                                               help us model the total nonpoint
                                                                               loadings from the Believue service area.
                                                                                 But our most important program may
                                                                               well be our public education program.
                                                                               The SSW was formed in large part
                                                                               because of citizen concern over
                                                                               Bellevue's lakes and streams, and we
                                                                               depend on that concern to help us
                                                                               implement our  programs. Our 24-hour,
                                                                               seven-day-a-week Spill Response
                                                                               Program, for example, averages 800 to
                                                                               Believue citizens may be the
                                                                               only city dwellers in the
                                                                               country who can fish in the
                                                                               drainage system.
900 calls per year from people reporting
instances of midnight  dumping or
improper disposal; our oil recycling
program, begun five years ago, is now so
successful that all we  provide is
  Last year, the SSW began a  household
hazardous waste pickup day. With the
voluntary cooperation of local disposal
companies, over 40 55-gallon  drums of
hazardous materials were collected from
residents and disposed of properly. We
hope to continue this  event at least
  In addition to  programs that give
people clear alternatives to dumping
and other harmful  activities, we've also
sponsored workshops  and water-related
educational events with schools, garden
clubs, and fishing and sport groups.
  All these programs require funding,
but Believue is fortunate in already
having strong financial and community
support. We expect to be able to comply
with our urban storm  water permit, and
we welcome the permit as a tool to help
us in meeting our own water quality
goals. D
MAY 1986

Using  Buffer  Zones
to  Battle  Pollution
by J. Kevin Sullivan
 A traditional Chesapeake Bay workboat.
 The unique lifestyle and slieJ/jisIiiii"
 mt.'tliods of the ChesufHHjko ivtinirmrn
 ((re threatened by dcc/inni" bay
 productivity caused in part Ity nutrient
 [Dr. Sti/Jivan is the Scionfi/ic Advisor
 lor (lie Chesapeake Bnv Critical Area
 In the last few years, the Chesapeake
  Bay has been the subject of a great
deal of publicity, most of it negative.
Declines in the bay's fish and shellfish
stocks, signs of over-enrichment, and
low oxygen levels caused by excessive
nutrients and high concentrations of
toxic substances in certain areas have
alarmed many people who depend on
the bay for a livelihood or use it for

                     EPA JOURNAL

  As reported in the EPA Journal
 (December, 1985), a federal-state
 partnership, the Chesapeake Executive
 Council, was formed to address these
 problems. The Council has developed a
 Chesapeake Bay Restoration and
 Protection  Plan to begin the long
 process of  returning the bay to its
 former levels of resource abundance and
  One of the key elements of
 Maryland's efforts in the plan is the
 Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Law.
 Passed in 1984 by the Maryland General
 Assembly,  the law established a
 Commission authorized to develop
 criteria for guiding local land-use
 decisions in what  is known as the
 "Critical Area." This is a 1,000-foot
 wide strip  of land around the bay's
 shoreline and along its tributary
 streams, up to the head of tide. The
 criteria are intended to  protect water
 quality and conserve fish, plant, and
 wildlife  habitat.
  In considering the kinds of criteria or
 regulations that it would propose, the
 Critical Area Commission was mindful
 of the findings of the General Assembly:
 that the  Bay's shoreline and adjacent
 lands constitute a valuable and sensitive
 part of this estuarine system where
 human activity can have an immediate
 and adverse impact on water quality.
  The Commission was also aware that,
 in the Maryland portion of the
 Chesapeake, much of the nitrogen,
 phosphorus, and sediment entering the
 bay originates in land runoff, not  from
 municipal  or industrial  sewage
 treatment plants. As one approach for
 reducing the impact of land runoff,  the
 commission adopted the concept of
 strips of vegetation called "buffers"
 along the shoreline and at the edge  of
 tributary streams.
  The concept of vegetated buffers is
 not new. They have been established in
 a number of shoreline protection
 programs in other  states and regions. In
 some areas, buffers were established
 partly for scenic or aesthetic purposes.
This approach is sometimes used to
shield recreational areas or scenic roads
from intensive logging activities. In
other areas, such as the Pinelands
National Reserve in New Jersey, buffers
have been adopted for water quality and
habitat protection purposes, functions of
particular interest to the Critical Area
  An extensive review of potential
buffer functions was undertaken in
order to determine which of these
would be appropriate for the
As one  approach for reducing
 land runoff, the  Commission
 adopted the concept of strips
 of vegetation called "buffers"
 along the shoreline.
Chesapeake Bay shoreline. The
Commission determined that buffers, if
established, could perform many
beneficial functions:

• Filter pollutants from upland runoff.

• Protect stream water quality.
• Prevent disturbance to wetlands,
shorelines, and stream banks.

• Conserve plant and wildlife habitat.

  The scientific basis for some of these
beneficial functions has been well
documented.  For example, stream-side
vegetation affects the stream in
important ways, including shading,
which reduces water temperature,
supplying food sources for aquatic
organisms (i.e., seeds, plant litter, and
insects), and retarding the erosion of
stream banks.
  The filtering function of buffers is less
understood. Clearly, buffer vegetation
could physically block  sediments or
other eroding particulate material. Also,
dissolved nutrients in runoff could be
taken up by buffer vegetation and
transformed into plant tissue before
entering streams. In examining this
issue, the Commission was aware of
research on the effectiveness of buffers,
particularly those composed of forest
vegetation. Studies conducted in
Maryland by Drs. David Correll and
William Peterjohn of the Smithsonian
Institution  indicated that a forested
buffer located between farm fields and a
stream can remove 80 percent of the
nitrogen in the  runoff before it enters a
stream. Similar studies in  North
Carolina showed an 80 percent
reduction in the amount of nitrogen
leaving agricultural  land as it passed
through a forested buffer.
  Obviously, the width and composition
of a buffer  will  determine  its ability to
provide water quality and  habitat
protection benefits. The appropriate
width will  vary, depending on the
resources being protected and the type
of activity or disturbance that is being
buffered. For example, a minimum
150-foot buffer  has been recommended
between septic  systems and streams
where nitrate pollution is  a problem.
For wildlife habitat  protection, a
300-foot corridor or buffer is used in
certain instances. For commercial
logging on  flat land, a 50-foot buffer is
often recommended. In assessing these
factors, and the beneficial  functions of a
buffer, the  Commission decided that a
minimum 100-foot buffer width would
be appropriate for Maryland conditions,
but that the buffer should  be wider
where there are steep slopes.
  The Commission's final  regulations,
which were approved by the Maryland
General Assembly in March 1986,
require counties and municipalities in
the Critical Area to establish a
minimum 100-foot buffer along their
shorelines  and  streams.
  Within the buffer, most  new
structures,  roads,  septic systems,
parking areas and other impervious
MAY 1986

surfaces, and new mining operations are
prohibited. The only kinds of new
development allowed an;
water-dependent  facilities such as
marinas or public recreation areas.
  Even here, those features of a project
which do not  need to be located at  the
water's edge (i.e.. a parking lot or
restaurant) must be set back beyond the
100-foot buffer. The regulations also
require that the buffer be maintained in,
or returned to, natural vegetation. The
Maryland  Forest,  Park and Wildlife
Service has already begun to recommend
buffers in their forest management
programs. The Commission hopes that
the buffer area will eventually develop
into forest vegetation where possible.
  The buffer is only one of many
elements of the Critical Area Program.
The program also provides for the
protection of important plant and
wildlife habitats, redirects development
away from sensitive natural resource
areas, and requries new residential,
commercial, and industrial projects to
                                      minimize adverse impacts on water
                                        And this program, in turn, is only one
                                      of many far-reaching initiatives adopted
                                      by Maryland to substantially reduce the
                                      amount of pollutants entering the
                                      Chesapeake Bay from land runoff and
                                      from treatment plants. Only through
                                      application of the land management
                                      practices fostered by these initiatives
                                      will it be possible for the Chesapeake
                                      Bay to remain the "crown jewel" of the
                                      nation's estuaries.  D
  Managing  "Tail  End"   Pollution   on  the  Farm
  by  Larry R. Nygren,
  Dale E. Baker
  and Christina M. Hunt

  (The following article describes another
  example of efforts to reduce nonpoint
  source pollution in (he Chesapeake Bay
       When does an embarrassment of
       riches turn  into a problem?
    In the cast; of manure, it's when dairy
  farms in southeastern Pennsylvania
  produce more manure than they have
  cropland to efficiently use it on. For
  example, one dairy farm can produce a
  pile OIK; hint  diiop, (id loci wide, and
  500 feet long within a few months. It's  a
  classic case of too much of a good thing.
  And an overabundance of nutrients is
  thought to be contributing to the demise
  of Chesapeake Bay.
    The waste problems of a dairy farm in
  Lancaster County, PA, may seem a long
  way from the slow death of the
  Chesapeake  Hay, but they are much
  closer than the miles might suggest.
  Manure is an excellent source of
  nutrients, especially nitrogen,
  phosphorus, and potassium. That's why
  it has been used for millenia as a
  fertilizer. But when more is applied
  than crops can use, or it's applied in the

  (Nygren is a Program Specialist ivith the
  Huromi of Soil and Water Conservation
  in flu; Pennsylvania Department of
  Environmental Resources; Baker is ci
  Professor of Soil Chemistry at  the
  Pennsylvania State University; and
  Hunt is with the Soil find
  Environmental Quality Laboratory at
  the University.)
wrong manner at the wrong time, then
the nutrients runoff into both ground
and surface waters, where they
encourage the growth of
oxygen-demanding plants and algae.
The lower the oxygen levels, the lower
the variety and complexity of aquatic
  This is what is happening in the
Chesapeake Bay. Dissolved oxygen
levels are decreasing, and with them,
valuable yields of fish, shellfish, and
other aquatic species.
  To combat this situation, the states
surrounding the bay have begun a
regional cooperative effort to protect
and improve the water quality and
living resources of the bay.
Pennsylvania's primary emphasis is on
controlling its excess nutrient
  The Susquehanna  River drains more
land area in Pennsylvania than any
other state in  the Chesapeake Bay basin
and contributes  about 50 percent of the
bay's fresh water inflow. Forty percent
of the nitrogen and 21 percent of the
phosphorus entering the  bay comes via
the Susquehanna River, and soil and
water tests indicate that a major portion
of these nutrients are getting into the
Susquehanna from agricultural runoff.
  One method of reducing this runoff is
to improve nutrient (for example,
animal manures and commerical
fertilizer) management on farms.
Participating farmers contract with  the
state to apply only the amount of
nutrients that tests show they need and
to implement best management
practices (BMPs) that will help  control
excess nutrients. In return, Pennsylvania
will pay a maximum of 80 percent,  up
to $30,000 per landowner, of
implementing the BMPs.
                                       To give farmers the numbers they
                                      need to do their part, Pennsylvania has
                                      developed a demonstration "mobile
                                      nutrient laboratory" equipped to
                                      perform laboratory tests for manure
                                      composition and soluble
                                      nitrate-nitrogen, phosphorus, and
                                      potassium in soil and water samples.
                                      Set up in  a converted Winnebago
                                      camper, the lab is also a roving
                                      state-of-the art computer center capable
                                      of performing field-by-field analyses of
                                      the proper nutrient levels needed to
                                      achieve expected crop yields based on a
                                      program developed by the Cooperative
                                      Extension Service.  Planners can see right
                                      away what their soil is like and how
                                      much nutrients are needed. One farmer
                                      in the program, for example,  discovered
                                      that the nutrient value of his manure
                                      was enough to cut his commercial
                                      fertilizer bill  in half. Eventually, the
                                      Cooperative Extension Service hopes to
                                      have the computer program available in
                                      every county agent's office.
                                       A water quality management goal
                                      under consideration is to achieve
                                      between 50 to 100 pounds of nitrogen
                                      per acre remaining in the upper four
                                      feet  of soil at the end of the growing
                                      season. With appropriate assumptions,
                                      these levels of residual nitrogen should
                                      not lead to excess nitrate-nitrogen in
                                      ground water. The concentrations of
                                      nitrate-nitrogen should not exceed 10 to
                                      20 milligrams per liter of water leaching
                                      from the soil. A similar goal for water
                                      soluble phosphorus is being examined
                                      that will achieve no more than 0.2
                                      milligrams per liter of water leaving the
                                      tilled surface soil.
                                       Of course, controlling excess nutrients
                                      is simply  one of many beginning steps
                                      in the complicated process of saving the
                                      Chesapeake Bay. But the lab may help
                                      farmers, and the State of Pennsylvania,
                                      do their part, o
                                                               EPA JOURNAL

Inland  Lakes  Cleanup
Gets  a  Boost
by Kip  Blevin
 Kip Blevin
    The lake water here is warm. But a
    young cisco senses something cold,
 foreboding; a presence, an ominous
 ripple in the current. Bluegills floe as a
 dark shadow  looms overhead. The ugly,
 elongated shape with the dark brown
 vertical stripes on its sides appears
 languid, almost gentle in its movements.
   As  it  approaches the bottom,  its white
 underbelly neatly brushes the pale green
 broad-leaved  pond weed. A flick of its
 forked tailfin scatters silt, a few water
 fleas, and a large dragonfly nymph. The
 lone,  seemingly sedentary figure is
 lurking now,  concealed in the shade
 among the vegetation. The muskellunge
 is old, moody, and, at 55 pounds, easily
 the largest predator in the lake.
   Suddenly, an aptly named 14-inch
 sucker appears out of nowhere. The
 muskellunge reflexively opens its long
 duck-like jaws, darts, and in an instant
 takes the bait, making the day of an
 excited young fisherman. The taut
 35-pound test line gets  a workout as the
 wily old-timer rushes, lies still,
 leaps—anything to remove the hook
 (BJevin is a public affairs specialist in (he
 Office of Public Affairs in EPA Region 5.)
Algae-clogged stream entrance. Runoff
from livestock ami agricultural
operations had led to severe
eutrop/iication problems in many
inland lakes, such as Big Stone Lake on
the Minnesota South Dakota border.
lodged deep in its hard, bony lower jaw.
And then, the inexperienced angler
allows the line's tension to slacken just
long enough to guarantee an empty creel
this day.
  Until recently, waterfront delights like
fishing could have been lost  forever in
some inland lakes. Runoff from
nonpoint sources in agricultural and
urban areas had fostered heavy plant
growth that was slowly choking the
life out of many lakes in the Midwest.
  But some of these beautiful waters,
where recreation once thrived for
millions of people each year, are
beginning to regain their former status
as a mecca for water sports enthusiasts.
This rebirth is in large  part the result  of
a federal, state, and local partnership
which has produced 37 Clean Lakes
Projects in the last nine years.
  EPA's Region 5 has thousands of
lakes, most of which are located in
Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan.
Unfortunately, recent surveys indicated
80 percent of the region's assessed lakes
are either moderately or severely
affected by nonpoint sources of
pollution.  Their problems have received
relatively little attention from state and
federal agencies  because pollution
control funds and personnel
traditionally have been directed toward
municipal and industrial point sources.
  Historically, the Agency's Clean Lakes
Program has focused on treating the
symptoms of a dying lake.  While actions
such as dredging and weed harvesting
enhance recreational potential in the
short term, they  are extremely costly
and often do not address the basic
causes of eutrophication, which include
agricultural and  urban runoff, municipal
and individual waste disposal systems,
destruction of wetlands, runoff from
construction sites, and other
developmental activities.
  Declining funding since 1981 forced
Region 5 to reevaluate this approach.
After taking a fresh  look at the problem,
Region 5 concluded that solving lake
problems means eliminating the causes
 MAY 1986

as well as the effects of degradation.
Several state and federal programs
already control many types of nonpoint
pollution. And  the region could use its
scarce Clean Lakes Program dollars most
effectively as catalysts to attract funds.
technical expertise, and organizational
ability from these and other programs,
mobilizing this combination into a
comprehensive lake and watershed
treatment program.
  The underlying principle is very
simple: the condition of an inland lake
is a reflection of the condition of its
watershed. Three examples that reflect
this principle are Lake  Le-Aqua-Na, Big
Stone Lake, and the Clearwater
Chain-of-Lakes. Each is in a different
stage  of development and each
exemplifies federal, state, and local
cooperation and innovation at its best.
   Lake Le-Agua-Na is a publicly owned
lake in Stephenson County in
northwestern Illinois. Almost
completed, the renewal of this lake
demonstrates creative interaction among
the agricultural community, the state
water pollution agency, and local
  The state park that surrounds the lake
supports a variety of year-round
activities, Including fishing, camping,
picnicking, hiking, and winter sports.
Yearly park attendance ranges from
300,000 to 350,000 visitors. But runoff
from  crop and pasture lands
within the watershed was causing
severe eutrophication and sedimentation
  Through the joint efforts of Region 5
and six local and state agencies, local
landowners began stabilizing Wadderns
Creek, which empties into the lake.
Over  a 3-year period, farmers installed
terraces on farms throughout the
watershed and introduced watershed
management  practices such as
conservation tillage. Additional
measures included weed harvesting,
excluding livestock, and stabilizing the
shoreline. Lake and tributary monitoring
were  specifically designed to check the
effects of these management practices.
  Soil loss to date has decreased from
an average of 5.1  tons per acre to 2.0
tons per acre, a total sediment reduction
of 4,560  tons per year. In addition to
reducing sedimentation, a low energy
pumping unit was installed to circulate
flow in the lake and increase the
dissolved oxygen. This unit prevented a
fish kill during the 1985/1986 winter.
"This should provide the lake with  a
higher potential to establish a warm
water fishery," said Tom Davenport,
regional  nonpoint source coordinator.
  Big Stone Lake lies on the
Minnesota/South Dakota border. The
lake is a multipurpose resource used for
sport-fishing, swimming, boating,
commercial fishing, irrigation, industrial
cooling, and flood storage. Because of
its sport-fishing  and water-based
recreation Big Stone Lake has been an
important resort and vacation area for
nearly 100 years. Nowadays, however, a
dense crop of blue-green algae occupies
the lake continuously from early July to
late October. In the past 20 years,  seven
of 16 resorts have closed, and most of
the remaining resorts along the lake
have reduced their services.
  The  land in  the Big Stone Lake
watershed is used mostly for grain and
hay production and pastures that
Runoff from nonpoint sources
was slowly choking the life out
of many lakes in me  Midwest.
support live-stock operations. Erosion
from cropland and runoff from animal
feeding operations are major sources of
algae growth and sediment in the lake.
  The  lake cleanup is a case study in
the advantages of working together. This
project required  the cooperation  of EPA
offices in Chicago and Denver, two
states,  five counties, and a multitude of
local units of government and
government agencies. Ironically,  the
same organizational complexity that
once threatened  the project is now
recognized as an asset, allowing  the
program the flexibility  necessary to
overcome obstacles to water quality
  EPA involvement began when  Region
8 provided funds for South Dakota to
work on the lake's problems. Although
South  Dakota and Minnesota recognized
that improving the lake's water quality
needed the involvement of both  states,
Minnesota at first did not participate
because of concerns about South
Dakota's management approach.  EPA's
two regional offices helped to allay
these concerns.
  They both played a crucial role in
speeding up  negotiations, cutting
through  red tape, finding solutions to
the problems that emerged, and helping
state agency staffs sell the project to the
rest of their agencies. The merging of
the different state approaches has led to
a stronger project.
  At present, South Dakota is
concentrating on feedlot management
and storage of peak runoff in the
Whetstone River subwatershed.
Minnesota is emphasizing a
conservation tillage demonstration
program and wetland restoration.
  In the Clearwater Chain-o/-Lakes in
Minnesota, heavy amounts of nutrients
from point and nonpoint sources had
stimulated algae growth and depleted
life-giving oxygen in the lakes. Although
three municipal wastewater treatment
plants and a cheese factory no longer
discharged their wastewater to the lake
chain, water quality remained in
relatively poor condition. It was clear
that nonpoint runoff needed to be
  The cheese factory had formerly
discharged its wastes into a wetland,
and that discharge had supersaturated
the soil to the level that the wetland
was adding 35,000 pounds of
phosphorus to the lake annually.
Isolating the wetland and severely
curtailing its discharge reduced its
release of phosphorus to 1,000 pounds a
year. Further nonpoint controls on other
sources reduced phosphorus levels in
the lake from 86,000 to 52,000 pounds a
  The last stage of the project is just
beginning. This work will concentrate
on controlling the runoff from cropland,
significantly reducing the amount of
nutrients that reaches  the lakes. The local
project sponsor is a watershed district
whose boundaries include portions of
three counties. A consortium  of federal,
state, and local water pollution control
and agricultural agencies will carry out
the final stage of this comprehensive
lake protection  program.
  According to Charles H. Sutfin,
Director of Region 5's Water Division,
"As these examples demonstrate, the
states in Region 5 are responding to  the
region's lake watershed management
strategy with good, well-planned inland
lake projects.  The region will continue
to encourage states to redirect their
programs to work with Department of
Agriculture agencies to carry out
non-structural, watershed-based
solutions. Region 5 is committed to
improving and protecting its inland
lakes, and will continue to give program
and technical support to the states."
  Funding is currently scarce, but a
number of cost-effective approaches  are
available to enterprising communities
and states that wish to  protect or
improve their resources. In fact, the
scarcity of federal and state funding for
lake improvement has led to better,
more comprehensive, and less costly
solutions. With these solutions will
come, perhaps, more opportunities to
catch (and land) the elusive
muskellunge. o
                                                                                                          EPA JOURNAL

by Roy Popkin
  In the fabled "fertile crescent" formed
  by the Tigris  and Euphrates rivers, a
great civilization once blossomed, due,
many historians believe, to a thriving
agriculture based on irrigation. But the
flower may have contained the seeds of
its own destruction. The decline of this
and other early  civilizations in the
Middle East is often attributed to crop
failures resulting from a buildup of
toxic salts in the soil, a buildup caused
by poorly conceived or non-existent
systems to drain the land.
 -Today, in California's San Joaquin
Valley, modern man is  striving to
determine if his science and technology
can overcome the same problem that
caused many an ancient civilization to
vanish. The valley's Kesterson Wildlife
Refuge and Reservoir has become  a
latterday laboratory in which the answer
to the questions raised  thousands of
years ago is still, and urgently, being
  The future of an entire civilization is
not at stake in this modern version of
man's battle with the unpredicted
harmful impact of water supply systems
he created, but  if a way to deal with the
polluted drainage waters isn't found, the
owners of farmland covering up to
40,000 acres may be the first to go. And
one estimate says the long range impact
could ultimately affect  the entire San
Joaquin Valley.  The underground water
supplies of nearby communities and
surface waters providing drinking water
to a much larger area, including Los
Angeles, could  be contaminated.
  The major villain in this nonpoint
pollution-caused water supply
nightmare is selenium,  an inorganic
chemical that has been  in the rocks and
soils of California since the Cretaceous
Geologic Age 135 million years ago.
Contributing to  the pollution is another
geologic  fact of  life that long predates
the farmers in the San Joaquin Valley.
Many millions of years ago the area was
under an ocean which left behind not

 f Popkin  in a writer/editor in the EPA
Office of Public Affairs. I
only salts, trace metals, and chemicals,
but also an impermeable stratum of clay
which remains underneath the surface
soil being farmed today.
  Ironically, selenium is an important
element in the daily diet of man and
beast. As a food additive, it can be
purchased in health food stores.  In the
14th century, Marco Polo reported on
cattle disease problems in China which
seemed to have been caused by a
shortage of selenium in the diet of the
Oriental livestock. Selenium problems
have been known in the American West
for more than a century.
  If the level of selenium in drinking
water or food is too  high, it is dangerous
to fish, birds, and other wildlife and can
cause serious health problems for
human beings. As a  toxic chemical, the
amount of selenium permitted in
drinking water is regulated by the EPA
under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
  Kesterson's selenium problems cannot
be attributed to "perfidious" chemical
manufacturers or agricultural interests.
They are. in  fact, the result of
agricultural irrigation methods that have
Irrigation drainage in the San jonquil)
VaNey has released toxic tnnounls of
selenium from subsurface soils.
contaminating the Kesterson  Hesnivoir
and poisoning the wildlife there. An
interim solution to the problem has
been a hazing program to scare
wildfowl out of the refuge.
been used in the western part of our
nation since farming first began in
California's fertile valleys.
  The San Joaquin Valley is considered
to be one of the world's most productive
farmlands. It only recently became the
focus of concerns  about nonpoint toxic
trace metal poilution. It was
the  discovery that the irrigation drain
system designed to carry off the salts
was also carrying  selenium and other
toxic substances that triggered the
current anti-contamination efforts.
  The story actually begins in  1960
when Congress authorized the San Luis
unit of the Central Valley irrigation
project.  The legislation also authorized
the  Interior Department's Bureau of
Reclamation (USBR) to provide drainage
disposal facilities  on the west side of
the  valley.
  As new irrigation waters became
available to the farmers on that side of
the  Valley, the USBR began building
drainage facilities to deal with the
potential for salt buildups and
subsurface waterlogging which could
trap salts and other contaminants
between the valley's underlying clays
and the farms above them. The original
plan called for moving the subsurface
drainage through  the San Luis Drain,
which was to be a 188 mile
concrete-lined canal from Kettleman
City to a discharge point in the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. From
there it  would eventually reach San
Francisco  Bay. But environmental,
fiscal, and political pressures brought
construction to a halt after less than half
the  drain had been built. Residents of
the  San Francisco Bay area feared the
drain waters would carry excessive
levels of pesticides and high
concentrations of  boron, another
naturally occurring substance found in
the  valley. Strangely, selenium was not
a matter of concern at that time, even
though early geologic reports had noted
its presence in the soil.
  Construction funds ran out at the end
of the first 82-mile segment. With the
work at a halt, the bureau sought
interim  measures  for dealing with the
large quantities of drainage water
already flowing through the completed
portions of the system. Regulating
reservoirs  were built near Custine as
part of the drain. It was decided to use
them as evaporation ponds. The 12
shallow ponds cover approximately
1,200 acres to an average depth of four
feet. Completed in 1971, they were
designated the Kesterson Reservoir.
Although originally intended to be a
flow-regulating marsh for the entire San
 MAY 1986

Luis Drain, they became its terminus.
The. Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge
was created around the reservoir to take
advantage of the water supply. But,
because Western water rights law
generally assigns highest priority to
agricultural and municipal uses, the
Kesterson Refuge must depend on
agricultural drainage sources to
maintain its wetlands habitat for
migratory birds and other wildlife.
   Since 1972,  Kesterson has been
managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service (USFWS).  Until 1978, the water
stored there was mainly from local
surface runoff,  but, as farmers installed
underground systems that discharged
into the San Luis Drain, the majority of
the water reaching Kesterson was
subsurface agricultural drainage, and, as
it turned out, laden with selenium and
other toxic; trace elements. By early
1985, 7,000 acre-feet of largely
toxic-laden drainage water was flowing
annually into the reservoir.
  Alerted by water quality data gathered
by the Bureau of Reclamation, the Fish
and Wildlife Service began watching the
refuge to see if the drain water was
affecting the wildlife. Gary Zahm,  who
became manager of Kesterson and  other
nearby federal  wildlife areas in the
western valley  in 1981 told a
Washington Post reporter he
immediately knew that something was
wrong. "I didn't see the diversity of life.
1 didn't set; muskiata, crayfish, or
turtles. After 18 years of working in
marshes, it just didn't  look right."
  Me found only mosquito fish.  A
biological study he requested found the
water laden with selenium at a level of
4,200 parts per billion (ppm), 400  times
the level considered safe for drinking by
EPA standards. The fish  tested had 53
parts per million,  believed to be the
largest amount of selenium ever found
in live animals, fish, or birds. The
biologists also found deformed water
bird embryos and  nestlings. Again,
selenium poisoning was  the cause.
  Obviously, the selenium levels found
at Kesterson could be a threat to human
health if they leached into underground
water or spilled over into rivers  that
provided drinking water to California
  It was clear that action  had to be
taken to prevent further damage to
wildlife and, ultimately,  to protect
drinking water resources. USFWS
immediately began a hazing program to
drive birds away from the area. The
state of California  ordered the
Department of  the Interior to clean up
Kesterson and  to take the steps
Drainage diidi typical o/California's
Central VuIJrv Jrn«a!ion pro/erf. To
jM'rveni waterlogging urn! sail buildup.
pipes carry siibsurliicc I'imvs lliroug/i an
82-mile flniinagc system f/iul discharges
in the Kfjstcrson National U'ildlife
necessary to prevent leaching or
overflows by 1988.
  Early in 1985, in response to the strict
requirements of the Migratory Bird
Treaty Act, Secretary of the Interior Don
Model ordered  the San Luis Drain
closed despite  strong objection from
farmers who fear the eventual
destruction  of their arable lands if the
salts and other pollutants cannot be
drained after irrigation.
  Orderly plugging of the drain is  now
under way although there are  many
questions that  need to be answered
before Kesterson  Reservoir can be
cleaned  up. And  the problem with
disposing of contaminated drainage
water from the farms in the area still
  To understand exactly what is
happening at Kesterson and to develop
effective long-term solutions, the
Interior Department  and the state of
California have initiated an
 intergovernmental study program that
 cuts across  many disciplines and
 involves several  bureaus and agencies,
 with an advisory role for the National
 Academy of Sciences. The study has
 two major goals—protection of human
 and wildlife health and maintenance of
 agricultural production.  At the same
 time, the Interior Secretary directed the
 Department's bureaus to look for other
 areas where similar conditions might be
 developing. As part of Fish and
 Wildlife's continuing concern with
 environmental quality, an inventory of
 the entire range  of contamination
 concerns was  already under way.  Some
 of  the concerns identified  in a report
 released to  Congress in February 1986,
came from agricultural drainage outside
of the refuges, but only Kesterson was
identified as needing immediate
corrective action. The Bureau of
Reclamation also conducted a review of
projects providing drainage waters to
wildlife refuges and found no situations
similar to Kesterson.
  EPA does not have the authority to
issue National Pollutant Discharge
Elimination System  (NPDES) permits for
discharges composed entirely of return
flows from irrigated  agriculture. The
state of California, to which the NPDES
program has been delegated, does. It did
require the Bureau of Reclamation to
obtain such an NPDES permit and it
was during studies designed to meet
state requirements that the selenium
problem was discovered.
  EPA's Region 9 and Corvallis
Environmental Research Laboratory
have been involved in  the review of
protocols that may be used to establish
site-specific water quality standards  for
the disposal site eventually proposed. In
addition, Region 9 will participate on
the technical committees that will
review and direct assessments of the
selenium problems and evaluations of
the feasibility and environmental
impacts of various treatment and
disposal options.
  While initial reports  have been
completed, much remains to be done.
Interior's irrigation drainage task force
has identified 19  sites in the West
which merit further  investigation.
Selenium is only  one of the potential
contaminants of concern, but for
Kesterson it is the key  one.
  Salinity is a classic nonpoint source
pollution problem. Although farmers
and irrigation  engineers have learned a
great  deal about controlling it since the
days of the Babylonians, salt buildup
continues to present problems in
irrigated lands throughout the world.
The American West  has dealt with the
problem for decades, with solutions
ranging from sophisticated but relatively
expensive desalination technologies  to
simple changes in water application
methods. If government water supply
managers and scientists can successfully
remove the selenium and other toxic
chemicals from the Kesterson waters or
find  some way of diverting them from
local  agricultural  and drinking water
supplies, they will prove that the past
does not  have to be a prologue, and that
modern man has  truly  found  a way to
deal  with the kinds of  nonpoint
pollution sources that defeated  his
ancestors.  D
                                                                                                            EPA JOURNAL


A  "Fitting  Solution"
at  Snake  Creek,  Utah
by David Wann
   The successful solution of an
   environmental problem is like a
custom-made suit or a hand-knit
sweater that fits just right. The good
results more than justify all the hard
  The Snake Creek project in North
Central Utah offers a good example of
such a "fitting solution." A variety  of
tailor-made best management practices
(BMPs) there has dramatically reduced
heavy phosphorus loading into Deer
Creek Reservoir, the drinking water
supply for people in the Salt Lake
Valley and a recreational resource and
irrigation water source. Extensive
monitoring before, during, and after the
introduction  of the BMPs (1980 to 1985)
 From an environmental
 standpoint,  the bottom line is
 the dramatic reduction in
 nonpoint source pollution.
has documented the results, but
according to residents of the area, "You
don't need scientific instruments to see
that there has been a huge
  This part  of Utah doesn't fit the desert
stereotype. It receives a lot of moisture
in the form  of snowmelt from the
mountains,  and it's an oasis of  intensive
dairy and alfalfa farming. In fact, the
very lushness of these agricultural
operations turned out to be a major
contributor  to the eutrophication of the
  The reason wasn't too hard to
identify. Where there are cattle, there's
also manure. The traditional method of
dealing with manure had been  to push
 (Wann is a writer with the Office of
 External A/fairs in EPA's Hegion 8.J
  Manure bunker installed to prevent
  runoff and provide a storage area.
  Through steps such as those, nonpoint
  source pollution is being curbed in
  Utah's Snake Creek Basin.
it into irrigation ditches, which
frequently flowed right through the
barnyards. The technique was easy
enough, but one of the prices paid for
this convenience was the algal blooms
down in the reservoir. Fanners were
also getting rid of manure by applying it
to frozen fields, which resulted in heavy
nutrient runoff, especially in the spring.
  In 1979, the Snake Creek Basin was
chosen as a project area under the Rural
Clean Water Program sponsored jointly
by EPA and the U.S. Department of
Agriculture (USDA). With strong
participation from the Mountainland
Association of Governments, EPA, and
USDA's Soil Conservation Service, the
project  set out to design some BMPs
 MAY 1986

specifically tailored to fit the needs of
the Snake Creek Basin.
  Effective manure storage and handling
was a fundamental consideration. To
prevent runoff and serve as storage
areas,  manure bunkers were installed.
Lagoons and pumping systems
were designed to facilitate the drainage
and subsequent application of manure
slurry. The liquid wastes which
accumulate in low spots are now
pumped to storage lagoons, and then
sprinkled  onto the fields.
  (Hosed culvert systems through the
barnyards were also installed, as well as
sturdy fences to keep cattle away from
the creek. The revegetation of eroded
slopes was also part of the plan.
  Ray  Loveless of the Mountainland
Association of Governments and jack
Young from the Soil Conservation
Service did much of the field work in
the project. "We talked to farmers
individually and  never did try to twist
any arms," says Loveless. "From start to
finish, the project was voluntary and the
farmers could drop out anytime they
wanted."  Adds Young, "We  tried to
show them that it was a benefit to their
farms and to the environment of the
whole area. Even though their
operations had been polluting for a long
time, it's against the law, and their
habits had to change. We made pride an
important ingredient and tried to
demonstrate how using government
funding could really upgrade their
businesses." In many informal
discussions, leaning against farmers'
pickups, Young got the point across  that
cooperation  was the best way to go.
  Ultimately, contracts were signed
with the owners of six medium and
large-sized dairy operations. Under the
terms of the contracts, the farmers could
 Where there are cattle, there's
 also manure.
receive 75 percent of the cost of the
BMPs up to $50,000, a figure which was
exceeded in most cases. Because of the
relatively small size of the project, the
BMPs were implemented fairly quickly,
and the Snake Creek project is one of
the first completed under the Rural
Clean Water Program.
  According to EPA's Roger Dean, who
has been the project's manager since
1980, "Our work at Snake Creek seems
to have been successful from several
standpoints: water quality has
significantly improved, the farms are
now much  more efficient operations,
and a model for other similar projects
has been created." Dean, who is Region
8's nonpoint source coordinator, sees
the improvement  in attitude  as a major
accomplishment of the project. Many  of
the farms in the area are second- and
third-generation establishments, used  to
doing things the way they've always
been done.  The fact that the
interagency task force was able to
establish cooperative relations with the
farmers, and what's  more, produce such
good resul s, has made a positive
impressior  on residents.
  It is apparent that the farms are now
operating at a more efficient level. Herd
sizes have increased on the farms, and
the incidence of "hoof rot" from
continuous exposure to manure has
decreased. More efficient use can now
be made of the fertilizer value of the
manure, since access and handling is
vastly improved.
  But from an environmental
standpoint, the  bottom  line is the
dramatic reduction in nonpoint source
pollution.  Despite unusually high
precipitation during the project,
phosphorus loadings and fecal coliform
numbers all indicate significant
improvement, in some cases as high as
900 percent. Nonpoint source pollution
tends to be a difficult problem to solve,
but the Snake Creek project has
demonstrated that effective, fitting
solutions can be designed and
implemented, and that  by customizing
the work, both sides can emerge as
winners, d
                                                                 EPA JOURNAL

New  Farm   Law
Encourages  Cleanup
by Wilson Scaling
and Milton Hertz
   The Food Security Act of 1985 goes
   further than any previous farm bill
in providing incentives for resource
  A major feature in the Act is the
Conservation Reserve.  This competitive,
voluntary program allows farmers to
contract with the government to switch
highly erodible cropland to grass or
  The objective of the  reserve is to
raduce soil erosion. In doing so, the
reserve also will improve  water quality
and fish and wildlife habitat. Additional
benefits  will include some needed
income support for participating farmers
and some reduction in surplus
  By 1990, we hope that at least 40
million acres will have been enrolled in
the reserve and planted to grasses or
trees.  Between March  3 and March 14
of this year, farmers had their first
chance to sign up for the reserve at
Agricultural Stabilization  and
Conservation Service county offices
across the nation. This first round of
signups provided the opportunity for
farmers to retire at least five million
acres. The U.S.  Department of
Agriculture (USDA) has scheduled
another signup for the 1986 crop year
beginning May 5.
  Provisions for enrollment are detailed:

• The land proposed for enrollment in
the reserve must be certified as highly
erodible cropland.

• The government will pay 50 percent
of the cost of establishing permanent
plant cover. Fanners who want to
participate must submit bids for the
annual payments they  would accept
from the government to enroll their land
in the reserve. The bid must compete in
a bidding pool.  Some pools are
statewide; others are further subdivided.

(Scaling is Chief of the Soil
Conservation Service and Hertz is
Acting Administrator of the Agricultural
Stabilization and Conservation Service.)
                                                                                     ',   t-            :•<
                                                                                     -    '  *>
                                       Row erosion in a cornfield, New
                                       provisions in the 1965 farm bill will
                                       disqualify farmers from certain USDA
                                       benefits if they fail to use conservation
                                       methods on highly erodibie cropland.
                                     • Once a bid has been accepted, the
                                     farmer cannot make any commercial use
                                     of the forage or trees on reserve lands as
                                     long as the contract is in effect. Hunting
                                     for fee, however, is allowed.
• Reserve rental payments to individual
farmers are limited to $50,000 per year.
Overall costs of the program may be
some $5 billion over the first five years,
but we expect that these costs will be
offset by lower commodity program
payments from reduced crop

• Farmers may withdraw land from the
program and return it to crop
production before their contracts expire
only if they  repay all government
payments, with interest, including the
cost share on establishing plant cover.
MAY 1986

  We anticipate that farmers will choose
to plant trees on about one acre out of
every eight in the reserve—about five
million acres overall. At roughly 500
trees to the acre, that could add up to
2.5 billion trees. And lands planted to
trees would  likely remain  out of crop
production for 25 years or more.
  The reserve can help reduce nonpoint
source water pollution. In  six of the ten
KPA regions, nonpoint sources are  the
main  causes of water pollution. In
almost every state, nonpoint sources
contribute in some degree  to impaired
water quality.
  Fortunately, most of our farmers  are
aware of the potential environmental
damages associated with excessive  soil
erosion. They manage their farms well,
so only a fraction of the potential
damage to the environment actually
occurs. Unfortunately, because of the
scale of American agriculture, that
fraction can  cause real problems.
  The Conservation Reserve will help
turn some of those problems around.
Only the most highly erodible and
seriously eroding cropland is eligible for
the reserve. This year, some  69.5
million acres—about 15  percent of  all
cropland  in the nation—are eligible to
be bid into the reserve. Retiring these
highly erodible croplands will reduce
total erosion and the delivery of
sediment and farm chemicals to surface
     The reserve is a cooperative
   effort among government agencies
   at all levels, the local conservation
   districts, and farmers with eligible

   •  The Agricultural Stabilization
   and Conservation Service
   administers the program and pays
   the farmers.

   •  The Soil Conservation Service
   determines land classification and
   erosion rates and helps farmers
   prepare and apply conservation

   •  The Forest Service and the state
   forestry agencies  advise on tree

   •  The state Cooperative Extension
   Services provide  information and
   education support for the reserve.

   •  The local soil conservation
   districts approve all conservation

   •  Some state agencies provide
   additional cost sharing with
  The agricultural community has made
a strong commitment to cleaning up the
nation's waters. But we in agriculture
cannot accept the responsibility for the
entire rural nonpoint source control
effort. We do not  have  the people or
funds for that—and we do not have
responsibility for all of the problem. But
we can make a difference in agricultural
areas by assisting farmers in installing
and maintaining soil and water
conservation practices, including best
management practices  (BMPs)
  Besides the Conservation Reserve, the
Food Security Act of 1985 also contains
other provisions that will bring more
consistency to our farm programs—and
also  help improve environmental
quality. Under these provisions, farmers
will  no longer qualify for certain USDA
program benefits if they fail to use
conservation methods on highly
erodible cropland.
  The "sodbuster" provision applies to
farmers who plow highly erodible  land
that was not in crop  production during
at least one of the five  years before
December 23, 1985, the effective date of
the Food Security Act of 1985. The
"swampbuster" subtitle applies to
farmers who produce crops on
converted wetlands that they  drained
after the act was passed. The
"conservation compliance" provision
applies to farmers who plant crops on
                                                                                                           EPA JOURNAL

Erosion after spring rains on
unprotected Iowa cropland. The
Department of Agriculture's new
Conservation Reserve program will
reduce soil erosion by offering
incentives for farmers to switch from
crops to grass or trees on highly
erodible land.
highly erodible cropland, even if it has
been cropped for years.
  Under conservation compliance,
January 1, 1990, is the deadline for
farmers to be following a conservation
plan approved by the local conservation
district. They have until 1995 to comply
with the plan.
  These provisions are not, as some
have charged, attempts by the
government to dictate land use.
Land-use decisions are private matters.
We do believe,  however, that it is
reasonable to withhold public
funds—price support payments, in this
case—from those who do not protect
their land from soil erosion.
  The conservation title of the farm bill
had broad support in Congress and from
farm and environmental groups even as
its provisions were being hammered
out. Many see it as an opportunity to
give additional  emphasis to soil
conservation and nonpoint source
pollution control.
  Both  on and off the farm, those
interested in protection of our nation's
resources are encouraged by the
conservation title of  the farm bill and
will be  watching—and contributing
to—our progress in getting it in place, D
                                          "Fingerprinting" Pollution  at Iowa's Big Spring
                                          by Julie  Elfving
                                          (The following piece explains a special
                                          project aimed at identifying and
                                          understanding agricultural nonpoint
                                          source pollution.)
   Pollution of ground water by
   pesticides and nitrate from fertilizers
is a major environmental concern in the
Midwest. In Iowa, where agricultural
chemicals are used on 60 percent of the
state's land area, public and private
drinking water wells that exceed public
health standards for nitrate have been
found throughout the state, and
pesticides are found  in ground water. In
Nebraska,  about 30 towns have
excessive amounts of nitrate in their
drinking water. Bottled water is
provided to infants, and monthly well
testing is required.
  The interagency, interdisciplinary
Iowa Big Spring Basin Demonstration
Project is a seven-year effort to test the
ground-water consequences and
economic  viability of various
agricultural management techniques. It
will include various-sized
demonstrations to document chemical
movement, water quality, and crop
production effects from a number of
traditional and innovative  agricultural
practices. It will  also include
educational programs to help farm
managers use fertilizers  and pesticides
more efficiently. There will be  special
emphasis on soil conservation combined
with farm chemical management.
Economic analysis and continuous
evaluation of surface and ground water
and related educational  efforts
concerning ground-water protective
practices will be included.
  Partially funded by EPA, the project
involves all the state natural resources
agencies, state university departments,
local farmers, agribusiness
organizations, and, in addition to EPA,
the Federal Soil Conservation and
Agricultural Stabilization and
Conservation Services.
  The Big Spring area is a  unique
"laboratory." It is dominated by
cultivated agriculture. Nearly all of its
                                         (Elfving is a water quality planner in
                                         EPA Region 7.J
Ground miter is a significant sourer <>C
drinking water in this country, but
heavy fertilizer and pesticide use  has
contaminated the ground iv
Nonpoint  Control:     A  Forum
                                      What level of government should be
                                      responsible for the cleanup of nonpoinf
                                      source pollution? This /s a crucial and
                                      widely debated question. EPA Journal
Robert Stafford
U.S. Senator (R-VT)
and Chairman,
Senate Environment and
Public Works Committee
   The .slates and (he federal government
   must share the responsibility for
dealing with the nonpoint source
  States, in association with  local
entities such as watershed districts and
councils of government, have the front
line responsibility for evaluating the
nature and sources of nonpoint source
pollution and devising appropriate
methods of control. Each state should
develop a  nonpoint source management
program that targets problem areas and
devises effective controls. In  some cases,
1 expect, regulatory programs will be
needed. States also have a responsibility
to cart'.fully review federal projects and
programs to assure consistency with  the
states' nonpoint source control efforts.
This review is needed to ensure that
federal projects and programs do not
inadvertently  undercut .state  efforts.
  The role of  the  federal government
should be to provide technical and
financial support.  Research on best
management practice and technology
transfer and information sharing should
be high priorities.  And the federal
government should provide funds to
help states launch or upgrade their
nonpoint programs. Federal agencies
should adjust their projects and
programs to ensure that they  are not
contributing to nonpoint problems.
  These principles are embodied in
both the House and Senate bills to
reauthorize and amend the Clean Water
Act, and I am confident they will work.
                                      We have seen the federal-state
                                      partnership pay off in nonpoint source
                                      pilot projects such as the St. Albans Bay
                                      project in my own state of Vermont.
                                      Similar partnership projects are under
                                      way in other states. A number of states
                                      have gone ahead without federal
                                      support to set up nonpoint programs
                                      because they have recognized the need,
                                      and they know that the public solidly
                                      supports clean water programs. The
                                      federal government needs to help these
                                      states expand their efforts and to ensure
                                      that other states begin now to deal with
                                      this important problem.
James L. Oberstar

U.S. Congressman (D-MIM)
and Chairman,
House Subcommittee on
Investigations and Oversight

    Nonpoint source controls are
    everyone's responsibility—federal,
state, and local governments,  local
groups and organizations, as well as
individual farmers and  foresters, mining
and construction companies.
  Among the many groups with which I
worked in developing the House
legislation, the clear consensus was that
nonpoint sources do not lend
themselves to a national control
program with national regulations and
standards. Rather, state and local levels
must develop controls to address local
  The federal role, therefore,  is to
provide encouragement, both financial
and other, to ensure that nonpoint
sources will be addressed wherever they
                                      pose a serious threat to water quality
                                      and the goals of the Clean Water Act:  to
                                      provide leadership in elevating
                                      nonpoint sources to a national priority;
                                      and to ensure that the federal
                                      investment is spent wisely and that
                                      implementation is moving forward
                                       Design and implementation must be
                                      carried out at the local and state levels,
                                      with states working closely from the
                                      start with local agencies, such as
                                      conservation districts, Section 208 water
                                      quality management agencies, and
                                      watershed districts, as well as the
                                      individuals who will be involved in
                                       Given the nature of nonpoint sources,
                                      and today's realities of limited resources
                                      and the call for  a much  lighter
                                      government hand, we will need  the
                                      combined efforts and cooperation of all
                                      levels  of government and the private
                                      sector, corporate and individual, to
                                      close the last major gap in the Clean
                                      Water  Act, bring nonpoint sources
                                      under  control, and protect and enhance
                                      the quality of America's waters.
Gary D. Myers
The Fertilizer  Institute
    Nonpoint source pollution is a
    complex challenge because there is
no easy means to accurately measure a
single nonpoint source's contribution to
overall runoff. Further, any estimates of
such pollution must consider specific
                                                                                                   EPA JOURNAL

asked sex'eral of the leaders in this
debate for their views. Their comments
area conditions such as topography,
climate, and land use. EPA's
Chesapeake Bay Study showed that
nonpoint sources surrounding the bay
region lose almost 15 pounds of
nitrogen per acre each year.
  Possible sources of nonpoint pollution
from agriculture are:

• animal waste

• bacteria in  the soil

• commercial fertilizer applications

• dustfall

• natural plant decay

• precipitation

• soil
  The specific contribution of each
source is extremely difficult to
determine at any one location, and
varies from area to area.
  The fertilizer industry—a vital  link in
our nation's food chain—supports a
close working relationship with our
agricultural producers to promote a
strong American agriculture. Sound,
cost-efficient  farming practices and
adoption of locally derived soil and
plant nutrient conservation practices are
essential steps in achieving this goal.
  Best management practices  (BMPs)
that reduce soil erosion and promote
conservation—such as conservation
tillage, soil testing, timing of fertilizer
application, strip cropping, cover crops,
terracing, and buffer strips—are all
highly effective in cutting losses  of
plant nutrients. Use of BMPs can reduce
losses of nutrients to the environment,
increase soil productivity, lower  the
farmer's cost of crop production,  and
improve crop production  efficiency.
  The fertilizer industry is continuing
its efforts to provide information  to
farmers and the public  about the
benefits of essential and judicious
fertilizer application, coupled with soil
conservation management practices. For
example, a  vigorous cover crop, with its
more extensive canopy and root
system—whether it  be a forage crop,
idled cropland, or productive row
crop—affords protection against soil and
nutrient losses.
  The future of essential crop
production, farm production efficiently,
and soil and nutrient conservation
depends on the ability of our nation's
farmers to expand their use of sound
management practices. The fertilizer
 industry, therefore, supports efforts on
 the local level to encourage adoption of
 BMPs best suited to the unique
 conditions of that area.
Hope Babcock
Deputy Counsel
National  Audubon Society
    According to one of EPA's own
    studies, water running off farm
fields, city streets, and construction
sites contributes 50  percent of the
pollution to our nation's water every
year and is the  leading water quality
problem in our  lakes and estuaries, with
an estimated annual cost of more than
$6.1 billion (e.g., adverse impacts to
stream biology,  recreation, water
storage, navigation,  flood damage, and
water treatment capability).
  Responsibility for implementing
nonpoint source pollution control
measures must  depend upon a  rational
and politically comfortable division  of
authority among the three levels of
government that make up our federal
system. With few exceptions, the states
have historically demonstrated that they
do not have the will, resources, or, in
some cases, the expertise to regulate
nonpoint source pollution on their own.
In the current fiscal  environment with
more responsibilities, but less money,
being shifted from the federal to the
state level of government, this record is
not going to improve.
  Any nonpoint source program must
have the federal government as a major
component to ensure that the problem
receives sufficient national attention,
that disparities  do not arise among the
 states, and that effective controls are
 implemented in the field. This means
 that the federal government must set
 standards, oversee and enforce
 implementation of program
 requirements at the state level, and
 provide technical and financial
 assistance to the states in the nonpoint
 source  program  as it does for any other
 pollution control program. Should the
 states not be effective partners, the costs
 of nonpoint pollution warrant direct
 federal regulation of nonpoint source
Robbi J.  Savage
Executive Director
Association of State and
Interstate Water Pollution
Control Administrators
   State governments have the primary
   management responsibility for
nonpoint source programs. State water
quality managers, dedicated to tlni
protection and enhancement of water
quality nationwide, have; known for
decades that nonpoint source problems
could be masked by the clearly evident
and well defined impacts ot point
source pollution. At the request of EPA,
the Association of State and Interstate
Water Pollution Control Administrators
(ASIWPCA) embarked on a national
quality baseline study to document
existing programs and evaluate future
  While ASIWPCA is convinced that
effective management of the nonpoint
source program requires states to have
the lead, it is clear from survey results
that control of nonpoint sources
MAY 1986
                                                                                                                  : > i

demands an enhanced state/local/federal
partnership. Because nonpoint source
pollution i.s diffuse and usually caused
by rainwater runoff from activities such
as construction and agriculture, impacts
vary widely. Hence a state-by-state, even
a watershed-by-watershed, approach is
most effective.
  ASIWPCA documented that the
majority of the nation's waters have
minimal or no known impacts from
nonpoint sources. However, nonpoint
sources art: affecting 165,000 river
miles, 8.1  million lake acres, and 5,400
estuary square miles. And  of assessed
waters, seven percent of rivers and six
percent of lakes are severely impaired.
These impacts are significant and
require action.
  The results of the ASIWPCA project
demonstrate that nonpoint sources are
being addressed by state, federal, and
local governments, as well as the private
sector,  and that solutions must be
developed on a site-by-site basis
considering the unique geography,
geology, and climatic conditions  along
with the pollutants and sources
involved. This kind of environmental
management cannot take place from the
shores  of the Potomac. It can take place
only at the state and  local  level.
  Most environmental professionals
agree that federal compliance deadlines
and/or  standardized regulations are not
workable solutions to this  diverse,
intermittent, and localized pollution.
But, because of the complexity of the
problems, states cannot do the job
alone. An effective partnership is

• EPA technical assistance; is

•  EPA and other federal agencies
need to place a high priority on water
quality-related nonpoint source
pollution control to accomplish the
goals of the Clean Water Act.

•  Additional funding and  staff
resources are needed from all public:
and private sources.
  The ASIWPCA project's  findings have
already been put to good use. For
example, more funding has been
secured for state activities, working
relationships between state and federal
agencies have  been strengthened, state
programs are becoming more effective,
and public support has increased. Our
organization is convinced that these
efforts  indicate that, while
improvements are called for, the
existing partnership is working and that
this relationship should be supported
and enhanced.
                                       Those who have the greatest motivation
                                       for cleanup are often in a different
                                       jurisdiction from those who produced
                                       the problem.  But the daily work that
                                       can bring success to the national effort
                                       is most efficiently and effectively
                                       carried out at the local level.
Neal Potter

Council  Member
Montgomery County Council

    Nonpoint source pollution comes
    from everywhere—sewers,
highways, farms. For this reason, the
controls—and the community
education—also need to be everywhere.
Education, monitoring, and peer
pressure are best organized on a local
level. This means that cities, counties,
soil districts, etc., must do most of the
daily work.
  But just as knowledge of the situation
and peer pressure are local functions,
the "back pressure" or resistance to
regulation are most effective at this level
as well. Favoritism and letting pollution
run off onto somebody else is a likely
weakness of a purely local enforcement
system. The states must have  a hand
ensuring that local governments are
doing their job and are not dumping
their pollution on other people or
  In the same way, since most of our
water courses are interstate, there i.s a
need  for federal standards and controls.
Temptation is strong for state regulators
to be lenient in the enforcement of
difficult requirements on local
businessmen and farmers. Farm states
are reluctant to bear down on the use of
fertilizers and pesticides; urban states
may neglect stormwater runoff
  The federal and state governments
must provide support for local cleanup
efforts. The big expenditures for cleanup
often come in jurisdictions (e.g.,  in
worked-out mining areas) where
revenue sources are inadequate.
  Federal leadership is essential
because most of the serious pollution is
downstream from the pollution source.
Robert Warrick
Meadow Grove, Nebraska
  In 1975, President Ford was in Omaha,
   Nebraska, holding one of his "White
House Conferentes," and Russell Train
was then EPA Director. I was invited as
a representative of the environmental
community and asked a question about
the cost of controlling nonpoint source
pollution in the state of Nebraska. Mr.
Train acknowledged the problem, but
said the cost would  be prohibitive,
running into the billions of dollars, and
even then might not be controlled
completely.  This impressed me, as I was
delivering to him a proposal for one of
the first demonstration projects to
control nonpoint source pollution. I was
then chairman of the Lower Elkhorn
Natural Resources District. The
demonstration project later proved that
nonpoint pollution can be brought
down to acceptable  limits.
   Since then, the Natural Resources
District has moved ahead in actively
involving landowners in a cooperative
agreement with funding from local, state
and federal sources  in a program of soil
conservation that is slowly achieving
agricultural  sediment control. While this
is a voluntary program, it does give the
public confidence that a soil
conservation program can  work with
adequate funding and an active
                                                                                                         EPA JOURNAL

partnership of federal, state, and local
  In Nebraska, since the largest single
source of nonpoint pollution is soil
sediment from agricultural land, the
congressional passage of the 1985  U. S.
farm bill opens a new chapter in soil
conservation. Two major sections of the
conservation program deal with
controlling soil erosion. The
Conservation Reserve will  idle up to 40
million acres of highly erodible land,
and the conservation compliance
section will place conservation practices
on land that is highly erodible.
  These two sections, if fully  and
adequately implemented, will help
greatly in controlling erosion of soil into
the nation's rivers and lakes. It is
important that adequate funding be
available from local, state,  and federal
governments. The Soil Conservation
Service is the agency that works with
local farmers to place the conservation
practices on the land. They are now
faced  with massive budget cuts by the
Reagan Administration. Without a
viable Soil Conservation Service, it is
questionable if the conservation section
of the farm bill can  be properly
  The successful control of soil
sedimentation depends upon the local
landowner and a cooperative agreement
between local, state, and federal
governments. If one of them abrogates
responsibility, soil conservation is
threatened. Hopefully, all will cooperate
to properly implement the 1985 farm
bill conservation section, thus helping
to solve a major source of Nebraska's
nonpoint pollution problem.
Forrest V. Schwengels
Iowa State Senator  and
Chairman, Senate Committee
on Natural Resources
"N Tonpoint source pollution is
INI contaminating the nation's surface-
water and ground-water supplies.
Contamination of these water supplies
may affect your drinking water, your
fishing spots, or your recreational
streams and lakes.
  The major source of nonpoint
pollution is from chemicals commonly
used on cultivated farmland. Chemicals
such as fertilizers, insecticides,
herbicides, and animal wastes are
applied to the field and become a
dispersed source of potential pollutants.
The forces of nature, through
precipitation  and wind, transfer the
contaminants into the  surface waters
and the ground water of our nation.
Because nonpoint sources are so
dispersed, it is not possible to pinpoint
the specific location or source of the
chemicals contaminating a particular
body of water.
  Solutions to nonpoint problems will
only be achieved through the efforts and
cooperation of farm operators. However,
these farm operators cannot solve them
on their own. The recent price squeeze
on farm producers has forced more
erodible land into production and
intensified the dependence  upon
chemical aids to  increase production
and income. The economic  squeeze also
extends to state and federal funds for
conservation  practices and related
  It is necessary, therefore,  for the states
to educate farm operators on the
seriousness of the problem.  State and
local governments must cooperate in
providing educational  programs to
encourage and/or mandate acceptable
levels of soil conservation and better
chemical management to safeguard
against contamination of water supplies.
  Each state should provide a program
through legislation to establish soil loss
limits, to give technical assistance on
chemical management, and to formulate
long-range plans for achieving these
goals. Program funding should be
provided through a soil conservation
department, and educational materials
distributed to show farm owners and
operators how to reduce soil loss,
provide for better chemical
management, and improve economic
returns without a large investment.
  Increased funding levels from both
state and federal sources are needed to
carry out these programs through the
state and local structures.
  Our goal should be to arrive at a state
of non-depletion of soil and water
quality by a specified date. A strong
effort must be made to involve the
media in this education effort,
especially stressing the goal of water
suitable for drinking, swimming, and
  The federal government should be
involved by passing a law requiring
each state to develop a nonpoint
pollution strategy which would come
from the state plan. The funds should
be channeled through EPA to support
that program and to give incentives to
states to develop nonpoint pollution
programs on a watershed basis. L;
MAY 1986

A review of recent major EPA activities and developments in the pollution control program areas.
 GM Recalls
 General Motors Corporation
 is recalling approximately
 83,000 1980 model-year
 vehicles that are exceeding
 the federal hydrocarbon
 emissions standard.
   The recall announcement
 settles legal proceedings
 between GM and EPA which
 started shortly after EPA
 ordered the automobile
 manufacturer to recall
 186,000 cars in March 1984.
 Negotiations and additional
 testing by EPA  resulted in a
 settlement of the litigation
        and GM's present recall of
        83,000 vehicles with 5-liter
        engines. The remainder of
        the original  186,000 vehicles,
        which have  5.7-liter engines
        were  not affected by the
         The affected GM vehicles
        are the 1980 Buick Riviera
        and the 1980 Oldsmobile
        Delta 88, Ninety-Eight,
        Toronado, and Custom
        Cruiser Wagon models
        equipped with 5-liter
         GM will remedy the
        emissions problem by
        modifying the ignition spark
        timing systems of the

Cleanups to Accelerate
  EPA will immediately
accelerate its Superfimd
hazardous waste site cleanup
program with new funds
recently approved by
Congress and  President
  Congress passed the
interim funding measure
giving the Agency $150
million to effectively restart
the Superfund program.
  The Agency was forced to
delay work at 114 sites across
the country, as well as
scale-down some emergency
response and short-term
removal actions. Without the
additional funding, the
Agency was prepared to
begin shutting down the
program entirely.
  As of this writing, Congress
continued to debate a
five-year renewal of the
program in a House-Senate
Conference Committee.
 R. Augustus Edwards has been
 appointed EPA's Deputy Assistant
 Administrator for External  Affairs.
 Edwards joined the Agency in January
 as an expert-consultant after 10 years on
 Capitol Hill, where he was an
 administrative assistant in  the House of
 Representatives and the Senate. Prior to
 his work in the Congress, he was  a
 reporter covering local, state, and federal
 government and politics for a daily
 newspaper in his home state of Virginia.
 Edwards will play a key role in EPA's
 communications efforts.

 Richard E. Sanderson, who had served
 as Deputy Assistant Administrator for
 External Affairs since 1983, will servo
 as Associate to the Assistant
 Administrator for Negotiations, Office of
 External Affairs, and will specialize in
 negotiating ecological issues with other
 federal agencies. He has recently
 coordinated the conclusion of
 agreements between EPA and the  Army
                 Corps of Engineers on the definition of
                 "fill material" and Section 404(q) of the
                 Clean Water Act.

                 Margery (Peggy) Harlow Knight has
                 been appointed Director of EPA's Office
                 of Private and Public Sector  Liaison.
                 This office coordinates regulatory
                 partnership with the states and liaison
                 with environmental, citizen, and
                 industry associations. She served as
                 Deputy Assistant Director of the Office
                 of Volunteer Initiatives at ACTION from
                 1982 to 1985. Mrs. Knight previously
                 served at EPA from 1971 to 1972 and at
                 the Federal Water  Quality
                 Administration from 1970 to 1971. She
                 was Assistant for Congressional
                 Relations to the Vice President from
                 1969 to 1970, and  assistant to U.S.
                 Senators Everett Dirksen  and Peter H.
                 Dominick from 1961 to 1968. She
                 worked on the White House  Staff from
                 1968 to 1969 and 1972 to 1973. She is
                 an alumna of George Washington
                   Craig DeRemer has been appointed
                   Director of EPA's Office of
                   Congressional Liaison. He has served as
                   Deputy Director and then Acting
                   Director of the office since he joined
                   EPA last year. He previously served on
                   the staff of the Public Works and
                   Transportation Committee of the U.S.
                   House of Representatives from 1981 to
                   1985, where ho had responsibility for
                   key environmental legislation, including
                   the Clean Water Act, Superfund, and
                   water resources development. He served
                   as a legislative specialist and  water
                   resources planner with the U.S. Army
                   Corps of Engineers. DeRemer  graduated
                   magna cum laucle from the State
                   University of New York at Buffalo, and
                   holds a master's degree in natural
                   resources management from Colorado
                   State University,  n
                                                                                                      EPA JOURNAL

Complaint Issued
EPA announced that it has
issued an  administrative
complaint against Advanced
Genetic Sciences, Inc., (ACS)
of Oakland, CA and has
suspended the firm's
experimental use  permits. An
agency investigation
confirmed that tests by the
company on its genetically
altered bacterial pesticide
Frostban were conducted on
an open rooftop rather than
in an enclosed facility as
required by EPA.
  The agency is seeking a
total of $20,000 in penalties
for four violations under the
Federal Insecticide,
Fungicide and Rodenticide
Act (FIFRA).
  The violations include 1}
the environmental release of
two genetically engineered
microbial pesticides, and 2)
misrepresenting parts of
applications for experimental
use permits.
  The ACS products contain
genetically altered strains of
naturally occurring bacteria.
The natural bacteria, P.
syringae and  P. fluorescens,
promote the formation of ice
on plants  by producing a
protein which serves as a
seed for the formation of ice

Estuary Program
EPA is adding San Francisco
Bay and Albermarle/Pamlico
Sounds (North Carolina) to a
national program to protect
and restore their water
quality and aquatic resources.
  The action will provide
initial funding of $350,000
for the San Francisco Bay
and $300,000 for Albermarle
and Pamlico Sounds under
the  National Estuary
  The National Estuary
Program began last year
under a direct congressional
appropriation of $4 million
for four estuaries. It seeks  to
create a master
environmental plan to
control point and nonpoint
(runoff) pollution,  o
"The Clean Water Act doesn't foil us to
just hold the  line, ft requires us (o nuikc
the nation's miters lifcrully fi'shublr 
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