nonpoint source pollution

Nonpoint source pollution

Nonpoint source pollution is one of the biggest threats to water quality. The Environmental Protection Agency cites nonpoint source pollution as "the leading remaining cause of water quality problems" in our nation's waters. Nonpoint source pollution has also been called "people pollution" because it comes from agricultural and urban runoff, improperly managed construction sites, and faulty septic systems, and other human activities.

In our urban community, the biggest contributor to nonpoint source pollution to surface water is stormwater runoff — the water that flows and drains after a rain or snow melt. Unlike sewage from our homes and businesses, which is captured and piped to the wastewater treatment plant to be cleaned, rain or melting snow runoff from lawns, streets, and parking lots flows directly to our rivers, lakes, and streams untreated. It impacts both surface water and our groundwater. A major emphasis of the plan is to address nonpoint source pollution by focusing on everyday habits rather than through treatment equipment or enforcement of regulations.

The biggest threat to groundwater is also nonpoint source pollution from practices on the land, such as leaking underground storage tanks, failed septic tank systems, spills of hazardous chemicals from industrial sites, transportation accidents, and mismanaged manure operations.


what is surface water?

  • Rain water and runoff that collects in lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands on the earth’s surface
  • Surface water also comes from groundwater
  • Surface water provides a natural habitat for wildlife
  • A source of recreation for the people of our community
  • Interconnected with groundwater—our source of drinking water


what is groundwater?

  • Water that collects underground, filling cracks and spaces in layers of sand, gravel, or rock
  • Layers of earth that hold enough groundwater to supply a well are referred to as aquifers
  • Rain and snow runoff recharge the groundwater supply
  • Pollutants can seep into the groundwater making it unsafe to drink
  • The City of Battle Creek and Pennfield Township use groundwater from the Marshall Sandstone Aquifer


learn more about water!

The Water Cycle
The Kalamazoo Watershed