Nonpoint Source Pollution:
Barnegat Bays Biggest Water Quality Challenge

Nonpoint source pollution, or “people pollution,” is a contamination of our groundwater, waterways, and ocean that results from everyday activities, such as fertilizing the lawn, walking pets, changing motor oil, and littering. With each rainfall, pollutants generated by these activities are washed into storm drains that flow into our waterways and the bay. They also can soak into the ground, contaminating the groundwater below.

Each one of us, whether we know it or not, contributes to nonpoint source pollution through our daily activities. As a result, nonpoint source pollution is the BIGGEST threat to many of our ponds, creeks, lakes, wells, streams, rivers and bays, our groundwater, and the ocean.

What is stormwater?

Stormwater is rain or melting snow.  Stormwater is the most common way that nonpoint source (NPS) pollution reaches local rivers, creeks and lakes. How?  As stormwater travels across lawns, parking lots, roofs, roadways, and other impervious surfaces, it picks up nonpoint source pollution.  In most cases, it travels across these impervious surfaces on its way to the nearest storm drain. These are frequently located along the curbs of parking lots and roadways. The area beneath the grate that prevents larger objects from flowing into the storm sewer system is called a catch basin. Once stormwater enters the catch basin, it flows through pipes, which lead to an outfall where the stormwater enters a stream, river, lake, or the ocean.

As stormwater runs off the land, it carries chemicals, nutrients, sediments and other forms of NPS pollution into local streams (either directly or through storm sewers).

How do cities and towns minimize stormwater pollution?

Get information about everything from the basics of stormwater management to innovative ways to reduce stormwater pollution by visiting our Stormwater Management page.

What should individuals do to reduce stormwater pollution and protect our water resources?

Visit our “What can you do?” page to find out simple, easy steps you can incorporate into your life to reduce stormwater pollution and protect our water resources.

Jersey-Friendly Yards is a Barnegat Bay Partnership website with comprehensive information and resources for making your yard a “sponge.”  By restoring soil health, landscaping with Jersey-Friendly plants, conserving water, and other eco-friendly practices, you can help reduce stormwater runoff and keep non-point source pollution out of our rivers and bay. The website includes a searchable Plant Database and the “Interactive Yard,” a fun tool for learning the basic steps to a healthier yard.

Related Links

US EPA’s What is Nonpoint Source Pollution?
US EPA’s Nonpoint Source Pollution Outreach Toolbox — a great collection of resources and tools for spreading the word about preventing nonpoint source pollution.