What is nonpoint pollution and why should I be concerned?

There are many sources of pollution that impact Wisconsin’s rivers, lakes and watersheds. Some pollutants come from the pipes of factories, sewage treatment plants or cities (known as “point source” pollution). A whole lot comes from farm fields and city streets (known as “nonpoint” pollution).

One of the most significant sources of pollution is sediment (soil) that runs of the land and into our waters. This sediment carries phosphorus and other contaminants. This pollution can come from multiple sources. Any land-use decision we make that disturbs the soil—from construction to agriculture—can open the door for runoff.

Though phosphorus and nitrates come from many places, far and away the most significant source is agriculture. With so much of the state dedicated to farming, addressing this challenge is a major opportunity to improve water quality.

Solutions / Recommendations

There are many possible long-term solutions to minimize nonpoint pollution. River Alliance believes that working with farmers to provide incentives and support to implement water stewardship practices is one solution. 

River Alliance of Wisconsin and the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) are working together to recognize and promote agricultural production and processing facilities that go above and beyond to protect Wisconsin’s waters. The Clear Water Farms pilot program is a partnership between River Alliance of Wisconsin and farm owners. These farmers are applying the AWS International Water Stewardship Standard in order to identify their water-related risks and work collaboratively with the community to address shared watershed risks.

More Information

Explore the links below to learn more about nonpoint pollution in Wisconsin’s waters.

Questions? Or, have a story to share on how nonpoint pollution has impacted you?
Contact us at [email protected]