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Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

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June 2003

Terms and resources

Virginia Mayo Black

From BMPs to storm sewers

Runoff pollution resources

Here's a guide to help you understand the phrases flowing from polluted runoff:

Nonpoint source pollution – Pollution that cannot be traced to a single, identifiable source such as a pipe or a factory. Also known as runoff pollution, nonpoint source pollution is generated from a wide range of sources: roofs, streets and highways, yards, driveways, construction sites and farm fields.

BMPs (Best Management Practices) – Practices, techniques, or measures that avoid or minimize soil, sediment and pollutants carried in runoff to water. BMPs can be temporary, such as hay bales or silt fencing to control erosion during construction, or permanent, like detention ponds or grassy buffers along waterways. Other BMPs are "good housekeeping" solutions such as street sweeping. Some BMPs that might be used on a farm include structures like concrete barnyards or manure storage containers and nonstructural practices like conservation tillage and wetland restoration.

Watershed – A land area that drains water into a stream, river or lake. The watershed for a major river may encompass a number of smaller watersheds that ultimately combine at a common point. Everyone lives in a watershed, and the physical characteristics of the watershed and the kinds of activities that take place in a watershed ultimately affect the quality and potability of the area's water.

Performance standards – The criteria by which a stated goal is measured. NR 151 includes specific performance standards affecting urban, agricultural and transportation activities.

Technical standards – Documents that detail how to design, build and maintain BMPs.

Storm sewer – An underground pipe or open system, usually separate from a community's sanitary system. Storm sewers are designed to move rain, melted snow and street wash out of urban neighborhoods. Water that flows into storm sewers goes directly into an area's waterways.

Virginia Mayo Black is a DNR publications editor and communicator for the Water Division.

Runoff pollution resources
DNR Runoff Management – Find the latest information on the rules and links to related information.

DNR Storm Water Management – Find the latest information on NR 216 and links to other storm water-related sites.

Water Resources Education – UW-Extension – Provides a gateway to a variety of information, including information about the Water Action Volunteers (WAV) statewide program that helps local groups and individuals participate in streambank cleanup and storm drain stenciling efforts.

Natural Resources Conservation Service – includes conservation and soil information for nonfarmers as well as agricultural interests.

Polluted Runoff (Nonpoint Source Pollution – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Includes extensive information about how to manage runoff pollution, including kids' pages. National Pollution Discharge Elimination System also may be of interest.

Erosion Control Product Acceptability List (PAL) – Wisconsin Department of Transportation – Cites standards for erosion control manufactured products.