Protecting Our Water

Threats to Our Water

Nonpoint Source Pollution

What is 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.

Nonpoint Source Pollution

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Nonpoint Source Pollution

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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.

To report a suspected leak or spill in the City of Battle Creek, please call the 24-hour City of Battle Creek Dispatch number a 269.966.3493.

How You Can Help!


Shovel snow early and often in the winter. Try an alternative to salt.

Fuel Storage Tanks

Leaking above and underground storage tanks are a major source of contamination. Check both regularly for leaks.

Leaves and grass clippings

The next time you mow your lawn, mulch, bag, or compost your grass clippings, but don’t let it run into the storm drains. All that grass can end up in our lakes and rivers and release nutrients, which make weeds and algae grow.

Properly dispose of household hazardous waste

Never dump items such as motor oil, fuel products, cleaners, paints, pharmaceuticals, and pesticides on the ground or down the drain. They can contaminate groundwater and surface water.

Abandoned Wells

Close any abandoned wells on your property. They can act as conduits for contamination of groundwater.

Car Washing

Wash cars at a commercial car wash or on the lawn so that wash water can be absorbed and naturally filtered, avoiding streets and storm drains.

Use no-phosphorus fertilizer

During watering or rainstorms, unnecessary phosphorus applied to lawns is washed into street storm drains, which empty directly into local waterways. The City of Battle Creek and Calhoun County have ordinances against the use of fertilizers containing phosphorus.

Only rain in the storm drain

Rainwater and snow melt is the only thing that should wash down our storm drains. Anything else—grass clippings, leaves, motor oil, even fertilizer—is considered an ILLICIT DISCHARGE.

Septic System

If you have a septic system, have it checked every 2–3 years to insure it is working properly.  

Pet waste

Be a responsible pet owner and prevent contamination of the surface water and groundwater we all share by cleaning up anything—“left behind” on your walk.

Travel Trailer Waste

During the camping season, remember to properly dispose of your black water tank waste at a designated RV sanitary dump station. Improper disposal of waste contaminates the ground and water and leaves the “great outdoors”—not-so-great!

The Battle Creek Clean Water Partnership is the City of Battle Creek; the City of Springfield; the Calhoun County Water Resources Commissioner; the Calhoun County Road Department, the townships of Bedford, Emmett, Leroy, Newton, and Pennfield, the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center, Kellogg Community College, Battle Creek Area Schools and Lakeview Public Schools joining together with the common goal of protecting the waterways in our area.

Battle Creek Clean Water Partnership — Battle Creek Department of Public Works