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Water: Nonpoint Source Success Stories

Basic Information

Photo of women taking water samples from a stream.

Section 319 Nonpoint Source Success Stories highlight waterbodies identified by states as being primarily nonpoint source-impaired and having achieved documented water quality improvements. Projects described on this site have received funding from Clean Water Act (CWA) section 319 and/or other funding sources dedicated to solving nonpoint source (NPS) impairments. Water quality improvements are demonstrated through the achievement of water quality standards for one or more pollutants/uses (i.e., removal from the state's CWA section 303(d) list of impaired waters); measured in-stream reduction in a pollutant; or measured improvement in a parameter that indicates stream health such as increases in fish or macroinvertebrate counts. These stories also describe innovative strategies used to reduce NPS pollution, the growth of partnerships and a diversity of funding sources.

What Qualifies as a Success Story?

To qualify as a Success Story, a waterbody must have been listed on the CWA section 303(d) list or on the Integrated Report (IR) as Category 4 or 5 during the 1998/2000 listing cycle or subsequent years. Since being listed, waterbodies have achieved documented water quality improvements which can be attributed to actual NPS control or restoration efforts. Success stories are separated into one of three types, depending on the type of water quality demonstrated:

Waters that are Partially or Fully Restored

These stories feature waterbodies that meet water quality standards for one or more pollutants (e.g., nutrients, sediment, mercury, etc.) and/or designated uses (e.g., drinking water supply, recreation, aquatic life support, etc.) after being previously included on the 303(d) list of impaired waters. Waterbodies highlighted in these stories may be either partially or fully restored. By "fully restored," EPA means that the waterbody meets all water quality standards or designated uses. By "partially restored," EPA means that after restoration the waterbody meets some, but not all, of the initially impaired water quality standards or designated uses. In short, partially or fully restored waterbodies must meet one or more water quality standards or have some or all pollutants and/or designated use impairments removed from the 303(d) list and/or moved from IR Category 4 or 5 to IR Category 1 or 2.

Waters that Show Progress toward Achieving Water Quality Goals

These stories feature waterbodies that show significant progress toward achieving water quality goals, but do not yet meet water quality standards. In these cases, water quality improvements include either achieving measurable, in-stream reduction in a pollutant or achieving improvement in a parameter that indicates stream health (e.g., an increase in fish or macroinvertebrate counts). Since these waterbodies still do not meet standards, they remain on a state's 303(d) list and/or on the state's IR as a Category 4 or 5.

Waters that Show Ecological Restoration

This section includes waterbodies that had water quality problems but were not listed on the 303(d) list or on the Integrated Report (for unspecified reasons). However, restoration efforts were implemented that resulted in one or more uses being restored.

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Why is EPA Developing Success Stories?

photo of people planting alongside a stream

The Nonpoint Source Success Stories Web site serves two main purposes. First, the site offers an opportunity for states to highlight where their restoration efforts have resulted in water quality improvements in NPS-impaired waterbodies. Second, the site allows EPA to track the number of NPS-impaired waterbodies that are partially or fully restored—which is a key measure in the effort to document how NPS restoration efforts are improving water quality on a segment basis across the nation. This measure, known as WQ-10, is part of EPA's 2008 National Water Program Guidance and helps to direct states in their efforts to document results. Only partially or fully restored waterbodies that are featured in stories on this Web site can be counted under measure WQ-10. The green box on the homepage offers a running count of the partially or fully restored waterbodies achieved to date.

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How do I Submit a Success Story?

Do you think you have a success story that should be included on this Web site? Please use the Strategic Plan Measure Definition for WQ-10 to confirm that your waterbody qualifies as one of the three story types featured.

If you believe your waterbody meets the NPS Success Story requirements, please contact your regional nonpoint source coordinator (PDF) (1 pg, 24K, About PDF) for assistance.

Please use the following materials to assist in developing your 2-page (approximately 1000 words) success story:

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How to Use this Web Site

The stories on this site are divided into three types, depending on the type of water quality improvement achieved: (1) Waters that are Partially or Fully Restored, (2) Waters that Show Progress toward Achieving Water Quality Goals, and (3) Waters that Show Ecological Restoration. You may search on stories either by state or story type.

Search Stories by State
To search for all of the success stories developed for your state, click on the national map featured on the homepage. This will generate a box with all stories, regardless of story type. To search for all of the stories of a particular type from your state, click on your state name from the list provided under each story type heading on the homepage. State lists may be collapsed and expanded as needed.

Search Stories by Type
To search for all of the stories of a particular type, click on your preferred story type heading on the homepage and browse through the list (organized by state). You may also choose to download one of two story collections: the first includes stories of all partially or fully restored waterbodies featured on this Web site, while the second contains every story featured on the site.

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