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Water Quality photo identifier

Water Quality Program

Implementation through BMPs, Permits, and Other Actions

Whether pollution sources come from permitted point source discharges or from diffuse ("nonpoint") sources, there are feasible actions that will reduce the amount of pollution coming from these different sources and their impacts on the quality of our rivers and streams. For permitted sources, treatment of their discharge is typically required, along with other waste reduction practices. For nonpoint sources, carrying out best management practices (BMPs) to reduce pollution can make a difference.

Point source pollution is regulated through National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. Total maximum daily load (TMDL) projects can require permittees to go above and beyond the conditions of their permit if the TMDL study finds they need to be more stringent so that a river, stream, or lake will meet water quality standards.

  • Often, local wastewater treatment facilities need to meet wasteload allocations for bacteria and nutrients that contribute to dissolved oxygen problems.
  • Industrial discharges can be limited or treated.
  • Many cities and counties are responsible for controlling and reducing their stormwater pollution under a municipal stormwater general permit, but ultimately it is the people who live in those areas that can make positive changes to reduce stormwater pollution.
  • One possible method to meet an effluent limit is through water quality trading.

People, through everday actions on their land and in their watersheds, can control and reduce a significant amount of pollution through BMPs. BMPs can include:

Sometimes BMPs can be costly, so Ecology and the U.S. EPA provides grant money to communities and land owners to help them integrate BMPs that prevents or captures pollution.

We all have a civic duty to our communities and families to protect water quality so that we can enjoy and benefit from the services that our rivers, streams, and lakes provide us today and for our future generations.


Last updated August 2014