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Nonpoint Pollution from Agriculture

Watershed Surveys

Watershed surveys are evaluation tools that help us assess the health of streams and identify “non-point” pollution - the leading cause of water quality problems in Washington State.

This important part of our work is to find and control sources of pollution that don’t come out of a wastewater pipe. Non-point pollution comes from various sources including forest practices, runoff from streets and highways, construction, and agricultural activity.

Eastern Washington

We have developed watershed evaluations for eastern Washington to assess livestock grazing and tillage practices. This work helps us identify water quality problems, prioritize work, and directly follow up with landowners to help them fix water pollution problems.

Focus areas

Staff prioritized data gathered from more than 200 sites in five areas and evaluated livestock grazing impacts to streamside vegetation. Of those sites 20 have been offered information to receive financial and technical assistance. These focus areas were selected because data shows water pollution problems are present in the streams and rivers.

Landowner resources

We are committed to working with our partners to provide outreach and technical and financial assistance. There are many state and federal programs available that support a strong agricultural operation and protect clean water.

Local conservation districts are an excellent resource and help landowners with state and federal funding programs to make on the ground improvements. We have provided several million dollars to eastern Washington conservation districts to help landowners make changes that protect water quality and often can benefit agriculture operations.

Landowners can evaluate the impacts caused by grazing practices on their own property by looking for visual indicators of water pollution. See Clean Water and Livestock Operations: Assessing Risks to Water Quality for guidance on how our field staff evaluate streamside vegetation and document site conditions we know contribute to water pollution..

Partnering with the agriculture community

To strengthen our commitment to the agricultural community, Director Maia Bellon developed the Agriculture and Water Quality Advisory Committee. The committee represents a broad array of agricultural interests and meets to discuss our work to ensure both water quality protection and a healthy agricultural industry. Landowners and producers can connect with the committee through various associations and interest groups that are represented.

Contact us for more information

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Last updated January 2016