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Nonpoint source (NPS) pollution is the largest single source of water quality impairments nationally and in Indiana. Land disturbing and hydromodification activities, such as agriculture, forestry, construction, and urbanization, sub-surface drainage, and channel alteration are some of the leading nonpoint sources of pollution.
In 1987, the U.S. Congress recognized the need for greater federal assistance to help focus state and local NPS pollution efforts. To address this need, the U.S. Congress amended the Clean Water Act (CWA) to establish the Section 319 NPS Management Program. Under Section 319, states receive grant money to support a wide variety of activities including technical assistance, financial assistance, education, training, technology transfer, demonstration projects, and monitoring to assess the success of NPS implementation projects.
NPS programs, originally developed and approved under Section 319 of the CWA in 1989-1990, have enhanced states’ technical tools and capabilities, and strengthened and increased their partnerships. The NPS programs have also encouraged the development of a watershed approach to NPS pollution, and developed stronger financial bases and legal support for the states’ NPS programs. Despite these improvements, the states continue to face challenges related to implementing NPS programs that protect existing water quality in unimpaired waters and restore impaired waterbodies. As a result, in 1997, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) issued a supplemental NPS Program and Grants Guidance. These guidelines were designed to focus attention on waters that have been listed by states under Section 303(d) of the CWA as needing a total maximum daily load (TMDL). They also addressed the need to improve the U.S. EPA's and states' abilities to account for any accomplishments, as well as shortcomings, in implementing the national NPS program.
U.S. EPA’s 1997 guidance presents a list of Nine Key Elements, agreed to by the U.S. EPA and state-led NPS agencies, that characterize an effective and dynamic state NPS program designed to achieve and maintain beneficial uses of waters. In 2004, supplemental guidelines were released that focused on NPS projects and established the nine-element watershed management plan (WMP). Consequently, Section 319 grant funds above the $100 million authorized level are only available for states with a U.S. EPA-approved, upgraded NPS management plan that complies with the requirements of the 2004 supplemental guidelines.
IDEM is providing this update to the state’s NPS plan to more accurately reflect the current goals and direction of Indiana’s NPS program, describe the program implementation, and document the methods Indiana will use to meet the criteria included in the Nine Key Elements. This plan describes the program that IDEM will implement over the next five years and into the future. The plan will address water quality initiatives and provide guidance in the management of NPS impacts to water resources throughout the state of Indiana.
This document outlines goals for IDEM that will help build a stronger and more focused NPS program. Funding priorities identified for IDEM’s NPS Program support these goals with a strong focus on watershed planning, education, and implementation of measures to address more critical sources of NPS pollution. Many goals will require IDEM to take action by building partnerships and leading efforts to coordinate NPS programs. The implementation section of the report emphasizes IDEM’s various roles in addressing NPS pollution through both regulatory and non-regulatory programs.