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About 50 years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency was born because of concern about pollution, particularly air and water pollution fears.

The EPA was established on Dec. 2, 1970, during the Nixon Administration to consolidate in one agency a variety of environmental research, monitoring, standard-setting and enforcement activities. It was a good idea, but I think the EPA has gone a little regulation crazy on many issues. Common sense sometimes gets lost in these big bureaucratic agencies.

I have EPA on my mind because many of us public workers are required to fulfill a wealth of requirements to protect our waterways from the problems created from nonpoint source pollution.

NPDES: The first time I heard of it a decade ago, I wondered what it could be. It stands for National Pollution Discharge Elimination System. Leave it to the government to come up with a catchy name. Government-speak normally gives me a headache, but as confusing as that title sounds, everyone needs to understand about point-source and nonpoint-source pollution, because this pollution affects all of us and we cause it.

I am going to try to translate what all of this means in Sara-speak. I hope I do not freak out too many government types. NPDES is basically a process for regulating and permitting sources that might release pollution in some way. Point-source pollution simply means that the pollution is coming from a specific source, like a factory. So, that source has regulations they must follow.

Nonpoint-source pollution is different. It means the pollution is from a variety of sources, and those sources are us. The public — you and me — unfortunately create nonpoint-source pollution. We drive cars — lots of them — that leave deposits of oil and other fluids on the roads and parking areas. Some of us also either throw or let litter blow out of our vehicles creating loads of litter. Rain washes the litter and fluids away, either down storm drains or into ditches, ultimately ending up in creeks and streams. The debris continues its journey into larger bodies of water — rivers and even the ocean.

It is not just this stuff, though. We use fertilizers and pesticides and cleaning products that also end up being washed into waterways. As this stormwater runoff flows over the land or impervious surfaces, it accumulates the debris, chemicals, sediment or other pollutants that hurt water quality.

Have you ever had a drink of water topped off with antifreeze or motor oil? It does not sound appetizing. Do you long to jump into a pond or river and swim with fertilizer from your landscaping efforts. Well, these are all problems that we should think about because of nonpoint-source pollution.

While we are the reason we have it, we can also be the solution to prevent it. Our everyday choices make a difference. Use a litter bag, tarp or secure trash and loose items in your vehicles, never litter, and use proper methods and natural options in landscaping and pest control. Re-think what products you are using and use them properly.

Many of us think that large businesses and industries are the major sources of water pollution. Unfortunately, we are the major cause of water pollution.

If you would like to learn more about water pollution, water conservation, litter prevention and a host of environmental tips to protect our waterways and our quality of life in a government-speak-free zone, call Keep Liberty Beautiful at 880-4888, email or check our website at .

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