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What are non-point sources of pollution?
Karen Bell
Keep Liberty Beautiful Executive Director Karen Bell. - photo by Denise Etheridge

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines point source pollution as any contaminant that enters the environment from an easily identified and confined place.   Nonpoint-source pollution is the opposite of point-source pollution, with pollutants released in a wide area. Like the ones at Bryant Commons in Hinesville, our ponds catch a lot of litter and debris flowing in the pond from city storm drains.  It takes volunteers to keep the ponds free of cigarette butts, cups, bottles, cans, fast food trash, and other nasty litter that people toss on our sidewalks and streets and, ultimately, end up traveling down city storm drains.  All of these items are part of a problem called nonpoint source pollution.

Sadly, the most significant danger to our local waterways is these “nonpoint sources” (NPS), which are challenging to control.  What are nonpoint sources of pollution?  Nonpoint pollution develops mainly in our own homes and backyards and on our roads, businesses, even farms, and more heavily populated areas.  NPS pollution is caused by rainfall or irrigation moving over and through the ground.  As the water runoff moves, it picks up, and it carries away natural and human-made pollutants.  This finally deposits them into creeks, lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters, and even our underground drinking water sources.  It is often referred to as Stormwater pollution because those little downpours of rain wash the pollution and debris into our groundwater and waterways.  

These pollutants include:

Oil, grease, and toxic chemicals from urban runoff and energy production

* Sediment from improperly managed construction sites, crop and forest lands, and eroding stream banks

* Salt from irrigation practices and acid drainage from abandoned mines

* Bacteria and nutrients from animals, pet wastes, and faulty septic systems

* and, of course, litter.

According to the EPA, nonpoint source pollution is the leading remaining cause of water quality problems.  Nonpoint pollution is known to have harmful effects on drinking water, wildlife, and, as we are now learning our sport and seafood fisheries.  As urbanization continues, the impact of nonpoint pollution only worsens unless we change many of our harmful daily habits and look for proactive ways, like our Adopt Liberty groups, to create positive change.

There are still plenty of ways that you can be involved in creating positive change in Liberty County.  You can organize a cleanup in your neighborhood, or you can join the Adopt Liberty Program.  Keep Liberty Beautiful provides all the cleanup supplies (garbage bags, safety vests, work gloves, litter reachers, and water for these cleanups.   We appreciate any support volunteers can give.  Contact Keep Liberty Beautiful at (912) 880-4888 or email klcb@libertycountyga.com for more information.  We can all find a way to make our community a healthier, safer, and brighter place to live. 

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