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Wyoming Nonpoint Source Management Plan Update
Mar 1, 2000
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY PURPOSE This Wyoming Nonpoint Source Management Plan is intended to serve several purposes. The following are among the reasons why this plan is being updated at this time: 1) the Nonpoint Source Management Plan identifies actions addressing the Environmental Protection Agency’s nine key elements of an effective state nonpoint source program; 2) it provides the Department of Environmental Quality, Water Quality Division with an instrument to measure success in meeting federal water quality goals and the Wyoming Environmental Quality Act (W.S. 35-11-102), while utilizing the efforts and input of local citizens in prioritizing and addressing water quality concerns; 3) the plan will also serve the department as a monitoring tool in distinguishing effectiveness and efficiency of program activities and making adjustments to maximize the success of the nonpoint source program and improve the quality of the state’s waters. VISION The Wyoming Water Quality Division’s Nonpoint Source Program intends to work through voluntary and incentive methods to preserve and restore the quality of Wyoming’s surface water and groundwater resources so they continue to be available for designated uses. To do this, the Nonpoint Source Program shall rely largely on local voluntary implementation by individual landowners/users in a cooperative effort to address water quality improvements through watershed planning. Introduction “The two main motivating factors for protecting water quality are economics and quality of life.” - (Wyoming Nonpoint Source Task Force Strategic Plan, 1996) Quality of life goals depend upon recreational and economic opportunities as well as a healthy lifestyle. Citizens want to be assured of clean, healthy drinking water for themselves and for future generations. They not only value a safe drinking water source, but they also value the recreational and business opportunities which are dependent on clean water. This motivates citizens to participate in protecting the water resource which is important in meeting their quality of life goals. Economically, water quality protection and improvement can be shown to be cost effective. For example, communities implementing Wellhead Protection Programs can obtain variances from certain types of costly monitoring requirements. Developing new drinking water sources is almost always more costly than protecting an existing source. Healthy watersheds produce less sediment, thus reducing treatment costs for water utilities. Property values and bank loans for property are dependent on availability of potable water sources. Contaminated irrigation supplies have the potential to devastate crops. The livelihood of livestock producers is linked to clean and reliable water for their agricultural operations. Long range plans developed by most Conservation Districts in 1995 and 1996 identified water quality as a high priority in local communities. While citizens inherently recognize the value of their water resources, they may not recognize how they personally may affect, nor know how to protect, water quality. The Water Quality Division's (WQD) voluntary programs are aimed at providing information, education, demonstration, technical assistance, and cost-share assistance to local sponsors for implementation of pollution prevention measures. Additionally, the program offers economic incentives to local government entities, as well as citizen groups, to implement water quality planning and improvement projects. Costshare grants can be used to conduct studies, identify which Best Management Practices are useful in curbing NPS pollution, and implement new water quality improvement technologies. Nonpoint sources of pollution are diffuse in nature, difficult to assess, and result from land use activities in which contaminated runoff flows into surface water or percolates into ground water. Many factors, such as precipitation, soil type, slope, geology, vegetative cover, depth to groundwater, and distance to surface water can affect whether a land use will cause nonpoint source pollution. The site-specific nature of these factors, coupled with local economic and cultural considerations, are conducive to prevention and restoration activities which are best addressed and implemented through local initiatives. This is one reason why the Nonpoint Source Program relies largely on local voluntary implementation by individual landowners and/or users in a cooperative effort. The Wyoming Water Quality Division's Nonpoint Source, Wetlands, and Wellhead Protection programs can best fulfill their mandate to protect and enhance water resources by supporting and facilitating these locally initiated nonpoint source efforts. An approach which addresses all sources of pollution, and each individual contributor within a watershed, is the most efficient and effective method for realizing local water quality gains, as well as the economic and quality of life goals, which are dependent upon water resources. However, because local institutional capacity is often insufficient to handle such large-scale watershed projects, the WQD voluntary programs are also intended to assist in increasing this capacity. This updated Nonpoint Source Management Plan is intended to help the agency and local groups focus resources and activities over the short term (three to five years) and over the long term (ten to fifteen years). During the next five years, the WQD's voluntary programs will utilize a variety of tools to assist in development of local initiatives. These tools will include education, training, technical assistance, demonstration projects, financial assistance, assessment, and wetland banking. Nonpoint source program funding will be targeted both at developing the tools (i.e., education, technical assistance, demonstration, and assessment) and at cost-share funding for watershed planning and implementation efforts, recognizing that the scope of watershed efforts will be customized to accommodate the institutional capacity of the coordinating project sponsor. WQD will then assess the success of the short term implementation of these efforts at both the state and local levels. Those efforts that show success in improving water quality and local involvement will be maintained over the remaining five to ten year period of this plan. Those efforts that need improvement will be either improved or replaced with activities deemed to be more successful, and will be reassessed after an appropriate evaluation period (two to five years). Federal activities will likewise be monitored over the short and long terms. WQD will work with the federal agencies in cases where their activities are falling short of the goals and objectives in this plan. Although the Water Quality Division retains authority to take enforcement actions for violations to Wyoming Water Quality Standards, a voluntary approach to nonpoint source control is emphasized. It is the policy of the division that enforcement action may be taken only where water quality standards violations have been documented based on credible data, and where Best Management Practices (BMPs) have not been implemented in good faith. In order to ensure that the water-quality protection measures of the nonpoint source program are properly implemented, the importance of public education and participation must be stressed. Recognizing the need for such education and participation, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality is continuing to execute a comprehensive outreach and education strategy. One emphasis of the education strategy is that the public become aware of the extent of the problems, and better understand how an individual’s activities might contribute to those problems. Additionally, the appropriate BMPs must be disclosed to the potential users and made available to treat identified sources of nonpoint pollution. The education strategy addresses the financial and technical assistance that may be available to install needed BMPs. Finally, education and public awareness will be emphasized as a part of all demonstration projects. While education, assessment, and financial assistance for watershed efforts will be ongoing activities, in time, there will be decreased emphasis on demonstration projects. As institutional capabilities grow, technical assistance will still be needed, but there should be decreased demand for these services. Assessment will continue to be a priority in the program, since it provides the basis for verifying success, identifying problem areas, and prioritizing projects for funding. Overarching Principles The following three statements represent the top priorities for future actions of programs within the Water Quality Division. It is anticipated that all goals, objectives, and actions found in this plan will be derived from the ideas identified in the following three statements: 1. Continue an ongoing assessment of the statewide condition of surface and groundwater in Wyoming aimed at identifying risks and impairments on a watershed basis. 2. Implement a proactive information and education program to enhance the public’s knowledge of nonpoint source pollution, source water protection, and wetland values to encourage participation in voluntary efforts to prevent, reduce, and eliminate pollution of the state’s water resources. 3. Achieve protection of the quality of Wyoming’s water resources through the targeted application of regulatory and non-regulatory methods.
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