Nonpoint Source Pollution Management

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes nonpoint source (NPS) pollution as “the leading remaining cause of water quality problems”. Pollutants commonly associated with NPS include nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen), pathogens, sediment, and metals. Pollutant loads from nonpoint sources continue to impact drinking water supplies, recreation, fisheries and wildlife. The NPS Program provides financial and technical assistance to communities for locally led projects to meet the goal of the NPS Program:

  • Restore and protect Colorado waters from the impacts of NPS pollution.

The pages below contain supporting information to help NPS partners plan for and manage NPS projects in partnership with the NPS Program.

More Information

Nonpoint Source (NPS) vs Point Source Pollution

NPS pollution is a broad category of water pollution that does not fall within the legal definiaion of 'point source' in Section 502(14) of the Clean Water Act:

"Point source means any discerniable confined, and discrete conveyance, including but not limited to, any pipe, ditch, channed, tunnel, conduit, well, discrete fissure, container, rolling stock, concentrated animal feeding operation, landfill leachate collection system, vessel or other floating craft from which pollutants are or may be discharged. This term does not include return flows from irrigated agriculture or agricultural storm water runoff."

Unlike permitted pollution from municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4), industrial and seage treatment plants, NPS pollution comes from many sources. Pollutants come from rainfall or snowmelt moving over and through the ground. As the runoff moves, it picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants, depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands and groundwater. Types of NPS pollution are associated with how people use the land (land use) and particular physical land types (land cover). In Colorado, NPS source categories can include:

  • Abandon mine lands:
  • Agriculture;
  • Atmospheric deposition;
  • Forestry (includes wildfires and flooding);
  • Hydromodification and habitat alteration; and
  • Urbanization.

Includes the NPS Management Plan and Annual Reports, EPA’s NPS Program and Grant Guidelines, and federal regulations.

  • Project development resources, (e.g. eRAMS, watershed plan map, etc.), map of previous NPS projects, and project monitoring and evaluation resources to help determine pollutant sources and load reductions.
  • Information on the contracting process, project administration and reporting (e.g. sampling protocols, Sampling Analysis Plan template, etc.)

The NPS Program submits a Success Story to EPA annually to highlight where NPS best management practices in an impaired waterbody led to that waterbody meeting water quality standards. These restoration and protection projects are collaborative efforts, and reflect the continued effort across many entities to improve water quality in the state.

Explore these projects on EPA’s Success Story page.

The Water Quality Control Division’s Water Quality Engagement Webpage provides updates on regulations, guidance, and policies as well as engagement opportunities for the public.

If you would like to be added to or removed from the NPS Program’s email list, please contact:

Estella Moore
Nonpoint Source Program Coordinator

Kenan Diker
Agricultural Water Quality Specialist

Christa Trendle
Project Coordinator

Kate MacDonald
Project Coordinator

Tammy Allen
Restoration & Protection Unit Manager

The pages below contain supporting information to help you plan for and manage your project in partnership with our group.

2023 Funding Announcement

Funding opportunities to address nonpoint source pollution,how to apply for funds.

Program documents

2022 Nonpoint source management plan.

Project management

Contracting instructions, project administration, project reporting

Watershed-based planning

EPA's Nine Elements of a Watershed Plan, watershed handbook,plan examples, planning references, Statewide Water Quality Management Plan (SWQMP), master plans

Implementation projects

Best management practices, implementation references

Project monitoring and assessment

Sampling protocols, Sampling Analysis Project Plan (SAPP)

Education and outreach

Nonpoint source logo, mini-grants, newsletters, surveys and results, fact sheets,
success stories

Program partners