We're working to reduce polluted runoff from streets, forests, and farms. When it rains, water flows across the land, streets, and sidewalks. Pollutants are carried by this water into local streams, lakes, and waterways. This is called runoff, or nonpoint pollution, and is a problem for protecting water quality.
Runoff, or nonpoint pollution, can:
- Carry toxic chemicals, nutrients, and bacteria into lakes, rivers, and marine waters.
- Contribute to shellfish closures, harm salmon habitat, contaminate drinking water, and contribute to toxic chemicals in the food chain.
Washington's plan for preventing nonpoint pollution
We use a combination of technical and financial assistance, backed by state and federal laws, to ensure water quality is protected in Washington.
We last published the Washington’s Water Quality Management Plan to Control Nonpoint Source of Pollution, or the “Nonpoint Plan” in 2015. This is a federally-required plan that outlines Washington’s approach to addressing water quality impacts from nonpoint sources, including agriculture, onsite septic systems, suburban and urban runoff, and forestry.
In 2022, we are updating the Nonpoint Plan for submittal to EPA by the end of the year. As part of the update process, we are working with stakeholders involved in nonpoint pollution prevention.
The draft is available for public comment from Dec. 1 through Dec. 23, 2022. Make a comment online, using our comment form and selecting the document you are commenting on.
Join us 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 14 for a presentation on the Nonpoint Plan and draft chapters, followed by questions and answers. Visit the event page.
Land use practices affect water quality
The way you manage your land can have big impacts on water quality. We provide tools and guidance to keep sediment, bacteria, and nutrients from getting into state waters.
What types of runoff are we concerned about?
Agricultural runoff can pollute streams and rivers. We provide guidance to landowners for keeping waters clean.
Degrading forest roads and logging practices create forestry runoff. State rules and initiatives that govern forest practices are designed to ensure that timber harvest and forest road activities don't pollute streams and rivers. We inspect and provide data to make sure these rules are followed and water quality is protected.
We issue various water quality permits that aim to control urban and stormwater runoff from industries, construction sites, cities, counties, ports, state highways, and boatyards.
Get involved in improving water quality
Protecting and improving water quality requires all of us to do our part. It can be as simple as picking up pet waste and throwing it in the trash or restoring trees and shrubs near streams on your property.