EPA, NOAA Issue Guidelines to Reduce Coastal Pollution

[EPA press release - January 14, 1992]

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today joined the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in releasing two guidance documents to help coastal states control polluted runoff in coastal waters--also known as nonpoint source pollution.

"Today's guidance is the foundation for accelerating efforts by EPA, NOAA, the coastal states and the public to restore and protect the quality of our nation's coastal waters. The guidance provides a road map to help states develop effective coastal nonpoint pollution-control programs," EPA Administrator William K. Reilly said.

In EPA's most recent National Water Quality Inventory states reported that most water quality problems come from nonpoint source pollution; up to one-half of the states' waters are affected by it.

Coastal nonpoint pollution sources include agriculture, forestry, urban and suburban runoff, construction and development, septic systems, roads, marinas and hydromodification projects. Nonpoint pollutants include soils, nutrients, toxics and pesticides.

"EPA's guidance describes the best available management measures for reducing nonpoint source pollution. It explains that such measures are feasible--both technically and economically. A great deal can be done to reduce and prevent coastal pollution in affordable ways," Reilly said.

The first document, entitled "Guidance Specifying Management Measures for Sources of Nonpoint Pollution in Coastal Waters," is EPA's technical guidance on best ways to reduce or prevent nonpoint pollution in coastal waters. The measures range from broadly stated goals for water quality improvement to specific recommendations to reduce pollutant loadings. Measures include traditional methods such as erosion control to more comprehensive strategies such as watershed planning to help minimize stormwater control costs. The guidance also describes ways that wetlands and riparian areas can be used to prevent pollution from a variety of sources.

States will use these measures in developing state coastal nonpoint pollution control programs. In doing so, they may build on existing programs for coastal management and pollution control. States will select a practice or a series of practices, appropriate for their local circumstances, to achieve each management measure. State and local authorities will then assure that the measures and practices are put into place.

The second document is entitled "Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program: Program Development and Approval Guidance." This companion document describes how states can develop state nonpoint pollution control programs to implement the technical guidance measures. It also discusses the degree of flexibility states have in interpreting and applying management measures and describes the support and assistance EPA and NOAA will offer states in developing their programs.

The new state coastal nonpoint pollution control programs, for the first time on a national scale, will bring together authorities and capabilities within state coastal zone management and water pollution control agencies to address the problem of coastal nonpoint source pollution. State coastal zone management programs are authorized by NOAA under the Coastal Zone Management Act; state water pollution control programs (including nonpoint source control management programs) are authorized by EPA under the Clean Water Act.

The Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments of 1990 require that states with federally approved coastal zone management programs (29 of 35 coastal states are approved) develop a coastal nonpoint pollution control program. For States to continue receiving federal grant funds under certain NOAA and EPA authorities, their coastal nonpoint pollution control programs must be submitted to EPA and NOAA for approval by July 1995. Management measures must then be fully implemented by January 1999.

The management measures guidance was developed with extensive assistance from and full cooperation of other federal agencies and states, as well as extensive consultation with a variety of trade associations, environmental groups, industry, and other interested parties. EPA and NOAA will maintain this open and cooperative approach as the programs are implemented.

EPA and NOAA issued the guidelines in proposed form in October 1991. A notice announcing the two final guidance documents should be published in the Federal Register by January 19, 1993.