Nonpoint source (NPS) pollution has emerged as the largest threat to water quality in the United States, influencing policy makers and resource managers to direct more attention toward NPS prevention and remediation. In response, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) spent more than $204 million in fiscal year (FY) 2006 on the Clean Water Act’s Section 319 program to combat NPS pollution, much of it on the development and implementation of watershed-based plans. State governments have also increasingly allocated financial and technical resources to collaborative watershed efforts within their own borders to fight NPS pollution. With increased collaboration among the federal government, states, and citizens to combat NPS pollution, more information is needed to understand how public resources are being used, by whom, and for what, and what policy changes might improve effectiveness. Analysis from a 50-state study suggests that, in addition to the average 35% of all Section 319 funds per state that are passed on to collaborative watershed groups, 35 states have provided financial assistance beyond Section 319 funding to support collaborative watershed initiatives. State programs frequently provide technical assistance and training, in addition to financial resources, to encourage collaborative partnerships. Such assistance is typically granted in exchange for requirements to generate a watershed action plan and/or follow a mutually agreed upon work plan to address NPS pollution. Program managers indicated a need for greater fiscal resources and flexibility to achieve water quality goals.
Nonpoint source pollutionCollaborative watershed managementEnvironmental policyClean Water ActSection 319