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Water Quality

Nonpoint Source Pollution

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Oregon's Nonpoint Source Program 

Image of road erosionDEQ's overall strategy is to further develop its own and other agencies' or individual's capabilities, emphasizing watershed protection and enhancement, voluntary stewardship, and partnerships between all watershed stakeholders. DEQ also reaches out to other federal, state, tribal, local and private partners to assist in program development and implementation beyond DEQ’s regulatory jurisdiction and financial abilities.

These programs include the management or regulation of: forestry, agriculture, grazing, transportation, recreation, hydromodification, marinas, urban development, land use planning, fish and wildlife habitat, riparian and wetlands protection/restoration, public education, water resources, and other activities that affect the quality of the state’s waters.

Another cornerstone of Oregon's nonpoint source program is to identify solutions at the local community level. Watershed Councils, Soil and Water Conservation and Irrigation Districts, Cities and Counties all play an important part in the state’s strategy.


NPS Program Implementation

Oregon's NPS program is implemented by land use in order to address water quality issues on agricultural lands; state, private, or federal forest lands; or in urban areas. The goal of the NPS program has been broadened to safeguard groundwater resources as well as surface water. The state has been divided into 21 watershed basins and 91 sub-basins. The state’s NPDES permitting, assessment, and TMDL work has been aligned and prioritized according to these sub-basins. Forty-three (43) local, state, and federal regulatory and non-regulatory programs address nonpoint source control and treatment.

Oregon’s NPS water pollution control program is implemented under the State Environmental Quality Commission, relies on the federal Clean Water Act; the state’s water quality standards, the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) rule and other rules and regulations that control both NPS and stormwater pollution; the Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments (CZARA) Section 6217 Coastal NPS Control Program; the National Estuary Program; the Forest Practices Act; the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds; the Agricultural Water Quality Act; the State Land Use Planning Program, specifically Goal 5 (protection of riparian and wetlands) and Goal 6 (protection of air, water and land resources); and drinking water and groundwater protection programs.

Implementation by Land Use

Land Use Implementation Strategies
Agricultural Land
  • Oregon Department of Agriculture's Water Quality Management Program is responsible for developing and implementing agricultural pollution prevention and control programs to meet water quality standards, Total Maximum Daily Load allocations, and to implement Groundwater Management Area action plans affected by agricultural lands.

  • DEQ has a Memorandum of Agreement with ODA to ensure water quality standards, TMDLs, GWMAs, and other water quality goals are met on agricultural lands.

  • DEQ's Pesticides Stewardship Partnership uses a voluntary, collaborative approach to identify problems and improve water quality associated with pesticide use.
State and Private Forest Land
  • Oregon Department of Forestry and DEQ are involved in an ongoing cooperative effort to evaluate the sufficiency of current best management practices of the Oregon Forest Practices Act on state and privately owned (non-federal) forestlands in meeting water quality standards and TMDLs in accordance with a Memorandum of Understanding.

  • The 2002 ODF/DEQ Sufficiency Analysis: A Statewide Evaluation of FPA Effectiveness in Protecting Water Quality identified 12 recommendations that included improvements to the implementing rules or guidance of the FPA and other recommendations under the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds. 

  • ODA, Oregon Division of State Lands, Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, and DEQ have common interests and responsibilities in protecting waters of the state and other natural resources during the conversion of forestland to non-forest uses.
Federal Forest Land
  • DEQ has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Bureau of Land Management and a Memorandum of Understanding with the US Forest Service to ensure water quality standards, TMDLs, and drinking water rules and regulations are met. This includes periodic assessments through 5-year progress reports and updates to the agreements.

Urban and Rural Residential
  • DEQ, in corporation with the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development's Oregon Coastal Management Program, has developed Oregon's Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program designed to restore and protect coastal waters from nonpoint source pollution. Coastal states are also required to implement a set of management measures based on guidance published by EPA.

  • Water Quality Model Code and Guidebook - The goal of the guidebook is to provide local communities, both small cities and counties, with a practical guide to protecting and enhancing water quality through improved land use regulations. The guidebook includes model development code ordinances and comprehensive plan policies that are ready for implementation.

  • DEQ’s Onsite Disposal Systems Program requires that onsite systems be located, designed, installed, operated, inspected, and maintained to prevent the discharge of pollutants to the surface of the ground and, to the extent practicable, reduce the discharge of pollutants into groundwater that is closely hydrologically connected to surface waters.


NPS Program Funding

Clean Water State Revolving Fund

In its commitment to support the funding of NPS projects, the Clean Water State Revolving Fund  loan program continues to evaluate both point source and nonpoint source projects on the merits of their water quality benefits rather than focusing heavily on compliance issues which in the past favored wastewater treatment projects.

From January 1, 2004 through February 11, 2009, the SRF Program has provided $22,679,419 towards NPS water quality improvements. The SRF program continues to promote its low interest loans as a tool to address NPS needs. Over the next three years, it is anticipated that six million in NPS loans will be made annually through the SRF program’s traditional loan, its local community loan or sponsorship option loan.

NPS Implementation 319 Grants

Congress amended the Clean Water Act (CWA) in 1987 to establish the section 319 Nonpoint Source Management Program because it recognized the need for greater federal leadership to help focus State and local nonpoint source efforts. Under section 319, State, Territories, and Indian Tribes receive grant money which support a wide variety of activities including technical assistance, financial assistance, education, training, technology transfer, demonstration projects, and monitoring to assess the success of specific nonpoint source implementation projects.


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For more information on Oregon's Nonpoint Source Program, contact Don Yon by phone at 503-229-6850 or by email.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Headquarters: 700 NE Multnomah Street, Suite 600, Portland, OR 97232
Phone: 503-229-5696 or toll free in Oregon 1-800-452-4011
Oregon Telecommunications Relay Service: 1-800-735-2900  FAX: 503-229-6124

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is a regulatory agency authorized to protect Oregon's environment by
the State of Oregon and the Environmental Protection Agency.

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