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A. Pollution Prevention Management Measure

Implement pollution prevention and education programs to reduce nonpoint source pollutants generated from the following activities, where applicable:

  • The improper storage, use, and disposal of household hazardous chemicals, including automobile fluids, pesticides, paints, solvents, etc.;
  • Lawn and garden activities, including the application and disposal of lawn and garden care products, and the improper disposal of leaves and yard trimmings;
  • Turf management on golf courses, parks, and recreational areas;
  • Improper operation and maintenance of onsite disposal systems;
  • Discharge of pollutants into storm drains including floatables, waste oil, and litter;
  • Commercial activities including parking lots, gas stations, and other entities not under NPDES purview; and
  • Improper disposal of pet excrement.

1. Applicability

This management measure is intended to be applied by States to reduce the generation of nonpoint source pollution in all areas within the section 6217 management area. The adoption of the Pollution Prevention Management Measure does not exclude applicability of other management measures to those sources covered by this management measure. Under the Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments of 1990, States are subject to a number of requirements as they develop coastal NPS programs in conformity with this management measure and will have flexibility in doing so. The application of management measures by States is described more fully in Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program: Program Development and Approval Guidance, published jointly by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

2. Description

This management measure is intended to prevent and reduce NPS pollutant loadings generated from a variety of activities within urban areas not addressed by other management measures within Chapter 4. Source reduction is considered preferable over waste recycling for pollution reduction (DOI, 1991; USEPA, 1991). Everyday activities have the potential to contribute to nonpoint source pollutant loadings. Some of the major sources include households, garden and lawn care activities, turf grass management, diesel and gasoline vehicles, OSDS, illegal discharges to urban runoff conveyances, commercial activities, and pets and domesticated animals. These sources are described below. By reducing pollutant generation, adverse water quality impacts from these sources can be decreased.

a. Households

Everyday household activities generate numerous pollutants that may affect water quality. Common household NPS pollutants include paints, solvents, lawn and garden care products, detergents and cleansers, and automotive products such as antifreeze and oil. The use and disposal of these products are chronic sources of pollution (Puget Sound Water Quality Authority, 1991). Table 4-25 summarizes estimated pollutant loadings from various household chemicals that may contaminate runoff. These pollutants are typically introduced into the environment due to ignorance on the part of the user or the lack of proper disposal options. Storm drains are commonly mistaken for treatment systems, and significant loadings to waterbodies result from this misconception. Other wastes and chemicals are dumped directly onto the ground (Washington State Department of Ecology, 1990).

b. Improper Disposal of Used Oil

The improper disposal of used oil and antifreeze can significantly degrade surface waters. The Washington Department of Ecology estimated that over 4.5 million gallons of used oil are dumped in Washington State each year. Of this total, 2 million gallons eventually are discharged into the Puget Sound (USEPA, 1988). Such loadings can severely degrade surface waters. One quart of oil can contaminate up to 2 million gallons of drinking water; 4 quarts of oil can form an oil slick approximately 8 acres in size (University of Maryland Cooperative Extension Service, 1987).

c. Landscape Maintenance and Turf Management

The care of landscaped areas, including golf courses, can contribute significantly to nonpoint source pollutant loadings. The application of fertilizers and pesticides in coastal areas can be detrimental to surface waters. After a site is developed, a significant area of maintained landscape may be regularly treated with fertilizer and pesticides. Heavily landscaped areas include residential yards, golf courses, and parks. In the coastal zone, much residential development commonly is sited on unconsolidated coastal plain with sandy soils. Where such soils are present, frequent fertilization, pesticide application, and watering must occur to maintain turf grasses. Turf management programs and landscaping ordinances that require minimum maintenance and minimum disturbance or xeriscaping can effectively reduce these loadings.

In areas where nitrogen is a problem pollutant, measures to control the introduction of nitrogen into runoff and leachate are important. Several studies have been completed that demonstrate the leaching potential of nitrogen from turf. Researchers at Cornell University found that 60 percent of nitrogen applied to turf leached to ground water (Long Island Regional Planning Board, 1984). Shultz (1989) suggests that 50 percent of the nitrogen applications are leached out and not used by plants. A study completed by Exner and others (1991) showed that as much as 95 percent of nitrate applied in late August on an urban lawn was leached below the turf grass root zone. In coastal areas, where soils are highly permeable and ground water and surface waters are hydrologically connected, reduced applications of nutrients may be necessary to control subsurface flow of nutrients into surface waters.

A recent nonpoint source loading analysis (Cahill and Associates, 1991) indicated that 10 percent of the nitrogen and 4 percent of the phosphorus applied annually in a 193-square-mile area (an area approximately 10 miles by 20 miles) of maintained landscaped residential development end up in surface waters as the result of overapplication. A total of 512.7 tons of nitrogen and 49.4 tons of phosphorus enter surface waters from this area. These estimated pollutant delivery rates are conservative. Delivery rates in coastal areas with sandy soils may be much higher. Schultz (1989) found that over 50 percent of the nitrogen in fertilizer leaches from lawns when improperly applied. In addition, the proximity of sources to waterbodies may result in increased loadings. Where waterbodies are nitrogen- or phosphorus-limited, applications of fertilizers should be reduced or prohibited. Fertilizer control programs can effectively reduce nitrogen and phosphorus loadings by encouraging the proper application of nutrients. Fertilizer costs may also be reduced.

A study in Rhode Island concluded that medium-density residential development has the highest loading factor of pesticides and fertilizers of all land uses in the State (RIDEM, 1988). These results echoed the findings of research conducted on the Chesapeake Bay watershed that identified medium- and high-density residential development as having the highest loading factors for nitrogen and phosphorus in the Bay area (Chesapeake Bay Local Advisory Committee, 1989). Table 4-26 shows a summary of results from various studies quantifying application rates of household fertilizers. Table 4-27 summarizes recommended application rates.

Home use is estimated to account for 20 percent of pesticide use in the Puget Sound area, and household users often apply pesticides excessively or in too concentrated a formulation (PSWQA, 1991). The Puget Sound Water Quality Authority summarized available data in a 1990 issue paper on pesticides in the Puget Sound. This research revealed that 50 to 80 percent of all household users apply some form of pesticides for lawn and garden use. EPA Region 10 and the Puget Sound Water Quality Authority (PSWQA, 1990) reviewed data and surveyed pesticide use in 12 counties in the Puget Sound basin and concluded that household pesticide use in 1988 was greater than 213,000 pounds. Unnecessary pesticide loadings to surface waters may result from homeowner overapplication, poor knowledge of proper application techniques, or applications during grass dormancy. Both the PSWQA and the Virginia Cooperative Extension Survey (1991) have determined that such improper use commonly occurs.

Consideration of the potential for exposure and toxic effects of applied fertilizers and pesticides should be an important component of golf course policy decisions. Some of the technical issues concerning intensive management of turf grass include (1) extent of nutrient and pesticide applications, (2) chronic and acute toxicity to nontarget organisms, (3) potential for exposure of nontarget organisms to applied chemicals, (4) use of increasingly scarce water resources for irrigation, (5) potential off-site movement of fertilizers and pesticides, (6) effects of maintenance and storage facilities on soil and water quality, and (7) potential loss of and effects on wetlands resulting from construction and turf grass maintenance (Balogh and Walker, 1992).

While quantitative information is not currently available regarding the effectiveness of fertilizer and pesticide control measures, it can be assumed that application reductions will result in corresponding decreases in pollutant loadings. Table 4-28 (15k) provides guidance useful for reducing fertilizer and pesticide use. This guidance was developed by the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District, the Lake Barcroft Watershed Improvement District, the Northern Virginia Planning District Commission, and the Virginia Cooperative Extension service for use by commercial lawn care companies and households that choose to use commercial lawn care services. This advice, however, is useful for all turf grass management.

d. Yard Trimmings Management

Improper disposal of yard trimmings can lead to increased nutrient levels in runoff. Yard trimmings deposited on street corners may be washed down storm sewers and result in elevated nutrient loadings to surface waters. Proper management of yard trimmings and home composting can reduce the level of nutrients in runoff and decrease overall runoff volumes through the addition of humus to the soil. Increased levels of humus enhance soil permeability, decrease erodibility, and provide nutrients in a less soluble form than commercial fertilizers.

e. Improper Installation and Maintenance of Onsite Disposal Systems

As discussed in Section V of this chapter, failing or improperly sited or designed OSDS may contribute both pathogens and nutrients to surface waters. Many engineers, contractors, surveyors, drain-layers, sanitarians, OSDS installers, waste haulers, building inspectors, local and State officials, and owners of OSDS are insufficiently informed regarding the need for proper siting, design, and maintenance of onsite systems. While a number of States currently license OSDS installers and waste haulers in accordance with State health standards, these licensing procedures may be out-of-date. In addition, many of these standards address only limited health-related issues and do not address the complex joint issues of water quality and public health (Myers, 1991).

Many homeowners are unaware of proper OSDS operation and maintenance principles. They often do not know how frequently their septic tanks need to be pumped, what hydraulic load their systems can accommodate, and what should or should not be disposed of in their systems (Huang, 1983). Some homeowners use septic system cleaners containing substances that may contaminate ground water, may provide little to no benefit to the OSDS, and may even be harmful to the system (RIDEM, 1988). Public education programs can help homeowners to prepare, operate, and maintain OSDS and thus help to ensure the continued pollutant removal effectiveness of the OSDS. A variety of brochures and other educational materials regarding OSDS have already been developed, and these materials have been used in many areas to educate the general public about proper OSDS operation and maintenance (e.g., the Chesapeake Bay Region, Puget Sound). State and local agencies should make use of these materials and implement mailing and information dissemination programs. Brochures mailed to homeowners as part of general utility correspondence or as special mailings are also effective. Posters and other materials distributed at libraries can help disseminate this information to the public. Educational and outreach programs should target builders, buyers, system installation contractors, inspectors, and enforcement personnel, in addition to homeowners, realtors, and pumpers.

f. Discharges Into Storm Drains

Significant loadings of NPS pollutants enter surface waters and tributaries via illegal discharges into storm drains. The public unknowingly assumes that storm drains discharge into sanitary sewers, and materials are dumped into storm drains under the assumption that treatment will occur at the sewage treatment plant. Illicit discharges may also be a problem. Public education programs, such as storm drain stenciling, and identification of illicit discharges can be effective tools to reduce pollutant loadings. Sanitary surveys are also a useful method to help managers identify the presence and entry point(s) of illicit discharges or other sources of pollutants to storm sewer systems.

g. Litter

Litter along coastal waterways, estuaries, and inland shorelines has become a significant source of nonpoint source pollution. Litter, debris, and dumped large solid items impair coastal water quality, as well as the aesthetic and recreational value of coastal waters, and may also be a hazard to wildlife. Storm sewers have been identified as a significant source of marine debris (Younger and Hodge, 1992).

Plastics are the major debris problem in the marine environment. Plastic accounts for 59 percent of the debris collected in coastal cleanup efforts (Younger and Hodge, 1992). Other litter may also be a problem. The State Adopt-a-Highway programs have revealed that beverage cans are the item most frequently removed from the side of roads. These wastes commonly have entered surface waters via storm sewers or swale systems. During 1991-1992, participants in the Virginia Adopt-a-Highway program removed 36,000 cubic yards of debris with volunteer hours valued at $2 million (M. Kornwolf, Virginia Dept. of Transportation, personal communication, 1992).

h. Commercial Activities

Nonpoint source runoff from commercial land areas such as shopping centers, business districts, and office parks, and large parking lots or garages may contain high hydrocarbon loadings and metal concentrations that are twice those found in the average urban area (Woodward-Clyde, 1991). These loadings can be attributed to heavy traffic volumes and large areas of impervious surface on which these pollutants concentrate (Long Island Sound Regional Planning Board, 1982). For example, contributions of lead to the Milwaukee River south watershed have been estimated as 20 to 25 percent from commercial areas and 40 to 55 percent from industrial areas (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, 1991). Where activities other than traffic, such as liquids storage and equipment use and maintenance, are associated with specific commercial activities, other pollutants may also be present in runoff. BMPs suited to the control of automotive-related pollutants and any other pollutants associated with specific commercial uses should be used to control their entry into surface waters.

Gas stations, in most communities, are designated as a commercial land use and are subject to the same controls as shopping centers and office parks. However, gas stations may generate high concentrations of heavy metals, hydrocarbons, and other automobile-related pollutants that can enter runoff (Santa Clara Valley Water Control District, 1992). Since gas stations have high potential loadings and pollutant profiles similar to those of industrial sites, the good housekeeping controls used on industrial sites are usually necessary.

i. Pet Droppings

Pet droppings have been found to be important contributors of NPS pollution in estuaries and bays where there are high populations of dogs. Fecal coliform and fecal streptococcal bacteria levels in runoff in several drainage basins in Long Island, New York, can be attributed to the dog population (Long Island Regional Planning Board, 1982). Although dogs cause the more common pet droppings problem, other urban animals, such as domestic or semi-wild ducks, also contribute to NPS pollution where their populations are high enough. Eliminating or significantly reducing the quantity of pet droppings washed into storm drains and hence into surface waters can improve the quality of urban runoff. It has been estimated that for a small bay watershed (up to 20 square miles), 2 to 3 days of droppings from a population of 100 dogs contribute enough bacteria, nitrogen, and phosphorus to temporarily close a bay to swimming and shellfishing (George Heufelder, personal communication, 1992).

The Soil Conservation Service in the Nassau-Suffolk region of New York collected data indicating that domestic animals contribute BOD, COD, bacteria, nitrogen, and phosphorus to ground water and surface waters (Nassau-Suffolk Regional Planning Board, 1978). Runoff containing pet droppings has been found to be responsible for numerous shellfish bed closures in Massachusetts (George Heufelder, personal communication, 1992; Nassau-Suffolk Regional Planning Board, 1978). In New York the large populations of semi-wild White Pekin ducks contribute heavily to runoff problems, while in a Massachusetts study, dog feces alone were found to be sufficient to account for the closures.

3. Management Measure Selection

This management measure was selected to ensure that communities implement solutions that may result in behavioral changes to reduce nonpoint source pollutant loading from the sources listed in the management measure. A number of States and local communities, including Washington, Maryland, Virginia, Florida, and Alameda County, California, are using pollution prevention activities to protect or enhance coastal water quality. Such activities include public education, promotion of alternative and public transportation, proper management of maintained landscapes, pollution prevention, training and urban runoff control plans for commercial sources, and OSDS inspection and maintenance. To allow flexibility, specific controls have not been specified in the management measure. Communities may select practices that best fit local priorities and the availability of funding. In addition, flexibility is necessary to account for community acceptance, which is often the major determinant affecting whether education and outreach activities and administrative mechanisms such as certification and training requirements are practical or effective solutions.


Arlington County, Virginia, is drafting a source control plan for "minimizing impacts on its streams, a well as impacts to the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay, from pollutants entering the streams from many diverse sources." The plan is aimed at implementing individual programs for controlling sources of nonpoint pollution. Projects include:

  • Storm drainage master plan;
  • Educational programs for lawn management;
  • Evaluation of street sweeping programs;
  • Stream valley stabilization and restoration;
  • Evaluation of parking lot and street design requirements;
  • Land use planning;
  • Leaf and debris collection;
  • Household hazardous waste disposal; and
  • Storm drain stenciling.

4. Practices, Effectiveness Information, and Cost Information

As discussed more fully at the beginning of this chapter and in Chapter 1, the following practices are described for illustrative purposes only. State programs need not require implementation of these practices. However, as a practical matter, EPA anticipates that the management measure set forth above generally will be implemented by applying one or more management practices appropriate to the source, location, and climate. The practices set forth below have been found by EPA to be representative of the types of practices that can be applied successfully to achieve the management measure described above.

  • a. Promote public education programs regarding proper use and disposal of household hazardous materials and chemicals.

    Public education is an important component of this management measure. The provision of information regarding the environmental impacts of common household activities can produce long-term shifts in behavior and may result in significant reductions in household-generated pollutants. School curricula on watershed protection, including nonpoint pollution control, have been developed for elementary and secondary school education programs. An example is the program developed by the Washington State Office of Environmental Education (Puget Sound Water Quality Authority, 1989). Incorporating such programs into regular school curricula is an effective way to educate youth about the importance of environmentally conscious behavior, which in turn can help reduce the need for and cost of technology-based pollution control.

    Florida developed a comprehensive Statewide plan for environmental education coordinated by its Council on Comprehensive Environmental Education to be implemented through formal and informal education programs and State agency programs. All teachers receive the training, as well as State agency personnel and school children in grades kindergarten through 12 (Florida Council on Comprehensive Environmental Education, 1987).

    Public participation is an effective means of educating the public and is also necessary for successfully creating and implementing a nonpoint pollution control plan. Public involvement should be encouraged during the planning process through attendance at meetings, workshops, and private or group consultations, and by encouraging the public to comment on planning documents. Support for the documents and the plans being developed is fostered through public involvement. Newsletters are an effective means of keeping the public informed of what planning steps are being taken and how the public can become and stay involved. Metropolitan Seattle has printed an educational brochure concerning waste oil disposal in six languages in order to reach a wider audience (Washington State Department of Ecology, 1992).

  • b. Establish programs such as Amnesty Days to encourage proper disposal of household hazardous chemicals.

    Recognizing the potential impacts for environmental degradation from the improper disposal of hazardous household materials and chemicals, many communities have implemented programs to collect these chemicals. There has been an exponential growth in the number of such collection programs since the early 1980s. Two programs were in place in 1980; 822 were in place in 1990. The most common type of collection system is a 1-day event at a temporary site (often referred to as an Amnesty Day). More local governments are beginning to sponsor these programs several times a year, and many communities are establishing permanent programs, including retail store drop-off programs, curbside collection, and mobile permanent facilities (Duxbury, 1990). Table 4-29 (20k) summarizes the cost and effectiveness of some household chemical collection programs.

    In spite of relatively low participation rates, collection programs can have a significant impact on the amount of hazardous chemicals and materials entering the waste stream. It has been estimated that the amount of hazardous chemicals collected in States having approved coastal management programs was approximately 51,000 drums, or 280,500 gallons, in 1990 (extrapolated from Duxbury, 1990).

  • c. Develop used oil, used antifreeze, and hazardous chemical recycling programs and site collection centers in convenient locations.

    Household hazardous chemical (HHC) collection programs already exist in many counties throughout the United States. Specific days are usually designated as drop-off days and are advertised through television, newspapers, flyers, and radio. In Arlington County, Virginia, collection during the week is by appointment with a water pollution chemist employed by the county and on one Saturday a month. Other HHC collection programs have once-a-week or once-a-month collection days, and some programs have a single day set aside each year for all HHC collection for the county or region. The waste collected by these programs is usually disposed of by a licensed HHC contractor. Table 4-29 (20k) presents program descriptions, effectiveness, and cost information for representative HHC collection programs. Many service stations currently provide used oil and antifreeze recycling facilities for "do-it-yourselfers" to encourage environmentally sound disposal.

  • d. Encourage proper lawn management and landscaping.

    The care of landscaped areas can contribute significantly to NPS pollutant loadings. Results of a telephone survey conducted in 1982 by the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University showed that only 12 to 15 percent of home lawns in Virginia were being managed properly. The majority of homeowners preferred to do their own lawn work; only 8 to 10 percent of the households used commercial lawn care companies. A similar survey conducted on Long Island concluded that in affluent neighborhoods, 72 percent of the respondents used a lawn care service; in the least affluent neighborhoods, no one subscribed to commercial lawn care (Cornell Water Resources Institute, 1985). The extent of nonpoint source pollution from fertilizer application is site-specific and depends on a number of factors, including soil type, application rate, type of fertilizer, precipitation and watering amount, and socioeconomic status of residents. Because most people are not trained in proper fertilization and maintenance application, homeowner lawn care may result in significant amounts of nonpoint source pollution.

    To significantly decrease homeowners' pesticide and fertilizer loadings requires a broad-based educational effort. The State Cooperative Extension Service (CES) is one educational vehicle; however, the CES reaches only a small percentage of the population. Mass media approaches are generally the most effective way to reach a large part of the population, though some other possibilities are discussed below (Puget Sound Water Quality Authority, 1991). The following practices are part of proper lawn management and landscaping.

    • Proper pesticide and herbicide use, and reduced applications

      While few studies have been conducted to correlate pesticide and herbicide use with adverse effects on marine water quality, the magnitude of potential impacts can be inferred from incidents such as the extensive ground-water contamination in counties bordering the Puget Sound following widespread use of the pesticide ethylene dibromide (EDB) (Puget Sound Water Quality Authority, 1989). Estimates of pesticide use in the Puget Sound area reveal that 20 percent of the volume of pesticides applied is from residential sources and that these applications are typically in excess of recommended amounts or are too concentrated (Puget Sound Water Quality Authority, 1991).

      Maintaining a buffer between surface water and areas treated with pesticides is one method to increase the transport distance and reduce the potential for offsite movement of toxics. Selection of less toxic, mobile, and persistent chemicals with greater selective control of pests is encouraged (Spectrum Research, 1990).

    • Reduced fertilizer applications and proper application timing

      Lawn fertilization has been identified as a source of excess nitrogen and phosphorus loadings that may lead to eutrophication. A modeling study of urban runoff pollution conducted in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia by Cohn-Lee and Cameron (1991) estimated that the nonpoint source loadings of nutrients were equal to or greater than loadings discharged from POTWs and industries in the Chesapeake Bay area.

      Ground-water contamination also may be of concern especially where interflow exists between surface waters and ground waters. Schultz (1989) found that over 50 percent of the nitrogen in fertilizer leaches from a lawn when improperly applied. NVSWCD et al. (1991) found that up to two-thirds less fertilizer can be applied than is typically recommended by manufacturers. The use of slow-release forms of nitrogen and proper watering may also decrease nonpoint source pollution loadings (Nassau-Suffolk Regional Planning Board, 1978).

    • Limited lawn watering

      Nonpoint source runoff from lawns can be reduced by employing efficient watering techniques. Overwatering can increase nitrogen loss 5 to 11 times the amount lost when proper watering strategies are used (Morton et al., 1988).

      Soaker hoses and trickle or drip irrigation systems are an alternative to sprinkler systems. These types of systems deliver water at lower rates, which can increase the volume infiltrated, conserve water, and avoid runoff that can be associated with improperly operated sprinkler systems.

    • Use of minimum maintenance/minimum disturbance and IPM methods

      Minimum maintenance/minimum disturbance policies and strategies can effectively reduce land disturbance and associated soil loss and can reduce fertilizer, pesticide, and herbicide loadings. Where new development is occurring, community standards that limit the use of fertilizers or require commercial lawn care companies to use low-impact lawn care practices can decrease NPS loadings. Such practices can be promoted through public education programs for both new and existing developments.

      Effective use of IPM strategies can further reduce nonpoint source loadings. Regional soil conservation services, agricultural extension offices, local conservation districts, or the U.S. Department of Agriculture are good sources of information on IPM. A study in Maryland on IPM for street and landscape trees in a planned suburban community demonstrated that pesticide use could be reduced by 79 to 87 percent when spot application techniques were substituted for cover spray techniques. An average annual cost savings of 22 percent also resulted from the program.

      Effective IPM Strategies include (Washington State Department of Ecology, 1992):

      • Use of natural predators and pathogens;
      • Mechanical control;
      • Use of native and resistant plantings;
      • Maintainenance of proper growing conditions;
      • Removal of or substitutions for less-favored pest habitat;
      • Timing annual crops to avoid pests;
      • Localized use of appropriate chemicals as a last alternative.

    • Xeriscaping

      Xeriscaping, creative landscaping for decreased water, energy, and pesticide/fertilizer inputs, can be used to reduce urban runoff and minimize the application of lawn care products that may adversely impact coastal waters. The use of xeriscaping practices can reduce required lawn maintenance up to 50 percent and reduce watering requirements by 60 percent (Clemson University, 1991). Florida has passed legislation requiring xeriscaping on the grounds of all State buildings. Several other States, including New Jersey and California, actively support xeriscaping efforts. A more detailed discussion of xeriscaping is in Section II.C of this chapter.

    • Reduced runoff potential

      Rainwater from roofs can be infiltrated into the ground in gravel-filled trenches in well-drained soils or collected in rain barrels for later irrigation. Wood decking or brick pavers allow greater infiltration than do solid concrete structures. Landscape terracing reduces runoff and erosion when gardening on slopes (Washington State Department of Ecology, 1992).

    • Training, certification, and licensing programs for landscaping and lawn care professionals

      Training, certification, and licensing programs are an effective method to educate lawn care professionals about potential nonpoint pollution problems associated with fertilizer, pesticide, and herbicide applications. The State Cooperative Extension Service commonly provides these services. Trained lawn care professional can also help educate the general public about the advantages of low-input approaches.

  • e. Encourage proper onsite recycling of yard trimmings.

    Home composting promotes onsite recycling of plant nutrients contained in yard trimmings and reduces the potential for nutrients to enter surface waters. Unlike most commercial fertilizers, compost releases nutrients slowly and is a source of trace metals (Hansen and Mancl, 1988). When added as an amendment to lawn or garden soils, compost increases the organic content of the soil, which increases infiltration, reduces runoff, and decreases the need for watering. Sediment and bound nutrients in soils with high organic content are less mobile and less likely to migrate from the site. Compost applications may also result in increased plant health and vigor, allowing for the reduced use of pesticides (Logsdon, 1990).

    Home composting programs may result in municipal cost savings. An average suburban yard generates up to 1,500 pounds of yard trimmings per year, most of which is usually landfilled (McNelly, undated). Homeowners should be encouraged to place compost piles or bins away from streams and roadways that may serve as conveyances of leached nutrients. Recycling of grass clippings and mulched leaves should also be encouraged through education programs. The retention of grass clippings and mulched leaves reduces the need for supplemental water and fertilizer inputs.

    Suggested backyard composting programs include the following:

    • Provide compost bins free or at cost.
    • Create pamphlets explaining benefits and methods.
    • Start a "Master Composter" program in which graduates receive free equipment and conduct their own workshops.
    • Provide credits on waste removal fees to people who compost yard wastes.
  • f. Encourage the use of biodegradable cleaners and other alternatives to hazardous chemicals.

    Improperly disposed household cleaners containing nonbiodegradable chemicals have the potential to contaminate surface waters and ground water. OSDS systems may also be adversely impacted by these substances (PSWQA, 1989). The use of nontoxic, biodegradable alternatives, which quickly break down, should be encouraged through public education efforts (Reef Relief, 1992).

  • g. Manage pet excrement to minimize runoff into surface waters.

    The Soil Conservation Service in the Nassau-Suffolk region of New York collected data indicating that domestic animals contribute BOD, COD, bacteria, nitrogen, and phosphorus to ground water and surface waters (Nassau-Suffolk Regional Planning Board, 1978). Urban runoff containing pet excrement has been found to be responsible for numerous shellfish bed closures in New York and has been implicated in shellfish bed closures in Massachusetts (George Huefelder, personal communication, 1992; Nassau-Suffolk Regional Planning Board, 1978). In New York, the large populations of semi-wild Pekin ducks contribute heavily to water quality problems. A study in Massachusetts found that dog droppings alone were significant enough to cause shellfish bed closures.

    Curb laws, requiring that dogs be walked close to street curbs so they will defecate on the streets near curbs, are intended to ensure that street sweeping operations collect the droppings and prevent them from entering runoff. However, traditional street sweeping has been found to be an ineffective means for controlling fines and soluble NPS pollution and the dog droppings are more often swept into sewers and delivered to bays and estuaries during rain storms (Long Island Regional Planning Board, 1982; 1984; Nassau-Suffolk Regional Planning Board, 1978). Curbing ordinances should therefore be repealed where they are in effect, and laws requiring pet owners to clean up after their pets when they are walked in public areas and to dispose of the droppings properly should be enacted.

    Proper cleanup and disposal of canine fecal material and discouragement of public feeding of waterfowl are two ways of potentially controlling the adverse impacts of animal droppings. The following examples from the Long Island Regional Planning Board (1984) illustrate controls for NPS pollution from animal droppings.

    Control of NPS pollution from dogs:

    • Enactment of "pooper-scooper" laws requiring the removal and proper disposal of dog feces on public property.
    • Enforcement of existing "pooper-scooper" and leash laws should be improved in priority target areas where animal feces are known to be an NPS pollution problem.
    Control of NPS pollution from horses:

    • Instituting zoning ordinances to control the keeping of horses. These ordinances should include:
      • Minimum acreage requirements per horse;
      • Specifying areas where horse waste may be stored; and
      • Designated areas where horses may be kept.

    • Limiting the density of horses in deep aquifer recharge areas, in selected shallow aquifer recharge areas, in areas immediately adjacent to surface waters, and where slopes are greater than 5 percent.
    Public education programs:

    • The Cooperative Extension Service and similar agencies should be encouraged to develop and distribute informational material on all aspects of animal waste problems.

    Owners of large animals should use BMPs similar to those for pasture management, including the fencing of animals away from surface waters, avoidance of "overgrazing," "grazing area" rotation, and limited "grazing" when soil is wet. Manure is best stored away from waterbodies on an impervious surface with a cover or roof (Washington State Department of Ecology, 1992).

    The following actions can be used to help control the problem of pet excrement:

    • Pass regulations controlling the disposal of excrement from domestic animals;
    • Enact domestic animal clean-up regulations; and
    • Require commercial domestic animal operations (e.g., pet stores, kennels) to implement BMPs for the control and proper disposal of animal excrement.

  • h. Use storm drain stenciling in appropriate areas.

    Storm drain stenciling programs can be effective tools to reduce illegal dumping of litter, leaves, and toxic substances down urban runoff drainage systems. These programs also serve as educational reminders to the public that such storm drains often discharge untreated runoff directly to coastal waters.

    A successful program was initiated in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. The program was implemented by volunteers to prevent dumping of harmful material into storm drains that ultimately discharge to the Chesapeake Bay. The county's only involvement has been to publicize the program and provide stencils and painting materials.

    Approximately 60 to 70 percent of all communities in the county have participated. Several other counties around the Chesapeake Bay have inquired about the program. Data on effectiveness in terms of pounds of pollutant removed were not available; however, an informal survey that occurred after the program was implemented revealed that there is increased public understanding that storm drains should not be used for disposal of hazardous materials and dumping has decreased. Costs were nominal ($7.00 per stencil kit, including paint and brushes; the average neighborhood cost was $40.00). There is a similar program in place in Puget Sound, Washington. The total cost of implementing the stenciling program for the Sound was $2,644.39, including materials and labor. This practice is currently being used in other States and localities, including the Indian River Lagoon, Florida, drainage basin.

  • i. Encourage alternative designs and maintenance strategies for impervious parking lots.

    Parking lot runoff accounts for a significant percentage of nonpoint source pollution in commercial areas, depending on the proportion of building size to parking lot size. Sweeping is a viable method of reducing this runoff from paved areas. If a lot is rectangular and has no parking bumpers or medians dividing it, the job is easier and less expensive. As indicated in the case study, a computer model proved to be a useful tool in evaluating the effectiveness of pavement sweeping as a method to control one source of nonpoint pollution (Broward County Planning Council, 1982).


    Through an EPA Continuing Planning Process Grant, the Broward County Planning Council received funding to conduct a study to determine the effectiveness of parking lot sweeping as a method to abate water pollution. A computer model, utilizing simple and multiple regression equations, was used to simulate the conditions at the study area and to predict the runoff loads from the area due to rainfall. Some results of the study are as follows: for paved commercial parking lots, the 3-day to 28-day sweeping cycle produces a pollutant removal range of 60 percent to 20 percent, respectively; as the quantity of residue increases, sweeper efficiency also increases, and there is a point of diminishing return for pollutant removal by sweeping and for sweeper efficiency in removing pollutant loadings (Broward County Planning Council, 1982).

    Equipment types commonly used for street sweeping include abrasive brush and vacuum device sweepers. Both abrasive brush and vacuum sweepers have been shown to be generally inefficient at picking up fine solids of less than 43 microns. Although vacuum sweepers are more effective at removing fine particulates than brush sweepers, they are still generally considered to be inefficient. A newly developed helical brush sweeper that incorporates a steel brush with vacuum has been shown to be more effective at removing fine solids and is currently being evaluated. Although currently used sweeper technologies have been shown to be inefficient at removing fine particulates, their use in conjunction with other BMPs that are effective in trapping fine solids could improve downstream water quality (NVPDC, 1987).

    Another promising method of street cleaning that concentrates on oil and grease removal is wet-sweeping. By spraying a small area with water containing biodegradable soaps or detergents that solubilize the oil and grease deposited on pavement surfaces, increased removal can occur with a combination of sweeping and vacuum action. This method, however, is a fairly new concept and requires further testing (Silverman et al., 1986).

    Vegetated areas/grassed swales are another method commonly used to reduce pollutant loadings from pavement runoff. These areas can be designed to accept runoff with relatively high oil and grease concentrations from parking lots. Percolation through soil and underlying layers typically results in hydrocarbon filtration and adsorption, and degradation by naturally occurring soil bacteria.

  • j. Control commercial sources of NPS pollutants by promoting pollution prevention assessments and developing NPS pollution reduction strategies or plans and training materials for the workplace.

    The opportunities for and advantages of pollution prevention practices vary from industry to industry, location to location, and activity to activity. Therefore, it is important to develop pollution prevention programs tailored specifically to an activity or site. Pollution prevention assessments on a site-by-site basis reduce some wastes and possibly eliminate the generation of other wastes. Such assessments are often necessary for successful pollution prevention programs (DOI, 1991).

    States should promote and/or provide pollution prevention training and on-site assessments of individual facilities to help reduce the amount of hazardous wastes entering the environment from households and commercial facilities. A typical assessment for a facility will identify the types of waste produced, appropriate disposal methods and sites, and source reduction techniques. An education program to instruct personnel about proper materials handling and waste reduction strategies is also recommended.

    The Alachua County, Florida, Office of Environmental Protection produced a handbook of BMPs to be applied in 12 separate commercial operations. Many of the BMPs are common to more than one type of operation, though specifics are mentioned for each category of activities. The 12 operations mentioned are small and large mechanical repair, dry cleaning, junk yards, photo processing, print and silk screening, machine shops and airport maintenance, boat manufacturing and repair, concrete and mining, agricultural, paint manufacturers and distributors, and plastic manufacturers (Alachua County Office of Environmental Protection, 1991).

    The Santa Clara Valley Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Program and the San Jose Office of Environmental Management produced a handbook of BMPs for automobile service stations (Santa Clara Valley Water Control District, 1992). The handbook describes 18 BMPs that can be used to control onsite nonpoint source pollutants. Many of these BMPs require little or no investment for implementation. Most of the BMPs rely on education-induced behavior changes to minimize spills and disposal of chemicals and wastewaters down storm drains. Recycling, spill prevention and response plans, and proper material storage are also covered.

    The City of Lacy, Washington, developed guidelines to control NPS pollution impacts from service stations and automotive repair facilities on Puget Sound. These include:

    • Straining used solvents and paint thinner for reuse;
    • Recycling antifreeze, oil, metal chips, and batteries;
    • Properly disposing of wastes, including oils, machine-tool coolant, and batteries;
    • Using dry floor cleaners, such as kitty litter or vermiculite; and
    • Limiting use of water to clean driveways and walkways.
    The city developed educational material for distribution that describes these guidelines, defines procedures for potential hazardous materials problems, and provides the State Hazardous Substance Hotline.

    The City of Bellevue, Washington, Storm and Surface Water Utility, in cooperation with local businesses, has conducted a series of workshops aimed at the prevention of nonpoint pollution for automotive, construction, landscaping, food, and building maintenance businesses. The city gives recognition to businesses that attend a workshop and prepare a water quality action program. Videos of the workshops and accompanying manuals are also produced by the City of Bellevue (Washington State Department of Ecology, 1992).

  • k. Promote water conservation.

    Excessive use of water contributes to numerous NPS pollution problems, including runoff from fertilized areas, OSDS drainfield failures, and sewage leaks. Water overuse may also contribute indirectly to NPS pollution problems: streams, rivers, and ground water may be excessively drawn down for water supply, decreasing their capacity to absorb pollutant runoff and upsetting their natural flow (Long Island Regional Planning Board, 1982; Maddaus, 1989). Additional information on water conservation is contained in the OSDS section of this chapter.

  • l. Discourage the use of septic system additives.

    A 1980 EPA study identified 23 priority pollutants that are likely to be disposed of down household drains. Disposal of these chemicals into OSDS may impair OSDS function and contaminate ground water. Septic system cleaners are included in this category. There is little scientific evidence that septic system cleaners are effective in improving the function of septic systems. Many of the septic system cleaners contain chemicals such as chlorinated hydrocarbons, aromatic organic compounds, and acids and bases that may have an adverse affect on the biological treatment system and that may also pollute ground water. Many of these chemicals are also highly persistent in the ground water. Studies of ground-water contamination in New York and Connecticut have monitored these compounds in ground water and have found that (1) the septic system additives are not effective in improving the treatment systems and (2) the additives pass into ground water in relatively unaltered form (RIDEM, 1988).

    Many States and local governments have adopted legislation prohibiting the use of septic system cleaning solvents, including the States of Maine and Delaware, the New Jersey Pinelands Regional Planning Commission, and several jurisdictions in Massachusetts. Rhode Island prohibits the disposal of acids or organic chemical solvents in septic systems and specifically discourages the use of septic tank cleaners. The State of Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection has taken the process one step further by banning the sale and use of cleaning solvents and also implementing the law through press releases, statewide surveys, direct manufacturer contact, and contact with the State Retail Merchants Association.

  • m. Encourage litter control.

    While street sweeping historically has been found to provide little benefit in reducing fines and pollutants associated with small particulates because of outdated sweeping equipment and irregular sweeping frequencies, litter control can be an effective means to improve the quality of urban runoff. Both the Baltimore and Long Island Nationwide Urban Runoff Program (NURP) projects found that litter control substantially influenced the quality of runoff from urban areas (Myers, 1989). Suggestions for controlling litter include:

    • Encouraging businesses to keep the streets in front of their buildings free of litter;
    • Developing local ordinances restricting or prohibiting food establishments from using disposable food packaging, especially plastics, styrofoam, and other floatables;
    • Implementing "bottle bills" and mandatory recycling laws;
    • Providing technical and financial assistance for establishing and maintaining community waste collection programs;
    • Distributing public education materials on the benefits of recycling; and
    • Developing "user-friendly" ways for recycling, such as curbside pick-up, voluntary container buy-back systems, and drop-off recycling centers.
  • n. Promote programs such as Adopt-a-Stream to assist in keeping waterways free of litter and other debris.

    Such programs can eliminate much of the floatable debris found in coastal waters and their tributaries. These programs involve volunteers who pick up trash along designated streambeds. Several successful programs similar to these are being implemented in Maryland, Alaska, Virginia, North Carolina, and Washington. The International Coastal Cleanup, the largest coastal cleanup effort in the country, is coordinated by the Center for Marine Conservation (CMC). With the use of data cards, plastic gloves, and trash bags, 130,152 volunteers cleared 4,347 miles of beaches and waterways of 2,878,913 pounds of trash during the 1991 cleanup effort (Younger and Hodge, 1992).

    In addition to the visible benefits of such clean-up efforts, these programs offer valuable educational opportunities for volunteers and provide a significant amount of data on the amounts and types of debris being found in waterways. The sources of various types of debris can be traced as well. Debris can be traced to a specific company or organization based on labeling or marking. Where possible, CMC contacts these organizations about the finding of their debris, informs them of the problems caused by marine debris, and asks them to join the battle against the debris problem. From the 1990 CMC coastal clean-up effort, approximately 150 organizations were identified and contacted. As a result, the majority of organizations responded positively by printing educational "Do not litter" slogans on their products, and several launched internal investigations into current waste-handling procedures (Younger and Hodge, 1992).

  • o. Promote proper operation and maintenance of OSDS through public education and outreach programs.

    Many of the problems associated with improper use of OSDS may be attributed to lack of knowledge on operation and maintenance of onsite systems. Training courses for installers and inspectors and education materials for homeowners on proper maintenance may reduce some of the incidences of OSDS failure.

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