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Water: Polluted Runoff

Guidance for Federal Land Management in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed

This guidance presents the most effective tools and practices to address nonpoint source pollution that is currently contributing nutrients and sediments from federal land management activity in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  The categories of activity that are addressed in this guidance are agriculture, urban and suburban (including turf), forestry, riparian areas, decentralized wastewater treatment systems, and hydromodification. The same techniques can be utilized by states, local governments, conservation districts, watershed organizations, developers, farmers and citizens in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

This guidance, organized in six chapters by category of activity, is available in full and by chapter on the downloads page or can be accessed by clicking the links below. EPA's response to comments received (PDF) (66 pp, 403K, About PDF) can be accessed here or on the downloads page.

Basic Information and Introduction

Categories of Federal Land Management Activity

Photo of a water with trees on either side.

Riparian Area Management

Riparian areas are the natural buffers between uplands and adjacent waterbodies.

Photo of a worker using a vac truck.

Decentralized Wastewater Treatment Systems

Decentralized wastewater treatment systems serve millions of homes in the Bay watershed, adding ~12.5 million pounds of nitrogen to the Bay each year.

Photo of a dam.


The term hydromodification refers to the alteration of the hydrologic characteristics of waterbodies, which in turn could cause degradation of water resources.

Photos of two cows in a penned lot.


Agriculture can implement practices based on source, in-field and edge of field controls to protect water quality.

Photo of a the roof lines in a suburban neighborhood.

Urban & Suburban Areas

Development incorporating watershed planning, smart growth, low-impact designs and practices, and retrofits is critical to protect the Bay from urban and suburban runoff.

Photo of a pine forest.


Well-managed forests are the most beneficial land use for clean water. Large areas of healthy forest and streamside forests are essential to keeping nutrient and sediment pollution out of the rivers and Bay.

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