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Nonpoint Source Implementation

Striving for watershed protection and enhancement, voluntary stewardship, and building partnerships

Oregon's Nonpoint Source Program is implemented by land use in order to address water quality issues on agricultural lands; state, private, or federal forest lands; and in urban areas. The goal of the NPS program has been broadened to safeguard groundwater resources as well as surface water. Forty-three local, state, and federal regulatory and non-regulatory programs address nonpoint source control and treatment in Oregon. 

Implementation of the program relies on many agencies, programs and regulations. Some of these include:

  • The federal Clean Water Act
  • State water quality standards
  • The total maximum daily load rule
  • The Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments (section 6217-Coastal NPS Control Program)
  • The National Estuary Program
  • The Forest Practices Act
  • The Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds
  • The Agricultural Water Quality Act
  • The State Land Use Planning Program
  • State drinking water and groundwater protection programs

Implementation strategies

​​​​​​​The quality of Oregon's surface and groundwater can be affected by many factors and land uses, including agriculture. When properly managed, agricultural activities and lands are not expected to adversely affect water quality. However when improperly managed, agricultural activities impact water quality  of streams and drinking water resources.  More than 25 percent of Oregon is in agricultural land use (Oregon Department of Agriculture statistics), which means there are millions of acres of land where proper land management can deliver agricultural productivity as well as improve and protect water quality.

DEQ works closely with the Oregon Department of Agriculture's Water Quality Management Program to ensure water quality standards, Total Maximum Daily Loads and nonpoint source pollution goals related to agriculture are met. In January 2023, the agencies completed a collaborative process to update a Memorandum of Agreement that describes coordination efforts on current rules, programs and policies to protect and improve water quality related to agricultural lands and activities.

Agricultural Water Quality Management Area Rules and Plans

ODA is responsible for implementing the Agricultural Water Quality Management Act through development and implementation of area rules and plans to prevent and control water pollution from agricultural activities and soil erosion on rural lands. The ODA management areas, plans and more information about the programs can be found on the ODA website.

DEQ participates in ODA's effort to review and revise Agricultural Water Quality Management Area Plans consistent with ORS568.930. During the biennial review process, DEQ provides status and trends reports, information on drinking water resources near agricultural practices and other water quality comments on ODA's area rules and plans.

To view this information for each agricultural area plan review, visit the DEQ Comments and Drinking Water Updates page.

​​​DEQ has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Bureau of Land Management and a Memorandum of Understanding with the US Forest Service to ensure water quality standards, TMDLs, and drinking water rules and regulations are met. This includes periodic assessments through 5-year progress reports and updates to the agreements.

​​​The Oregon Department of Forestry and DEQ are involved in an ongoing cooperative effort to protect and improve water quality in waterways on non-federal forestlands. Coordination commitments are documented in a Memorandum of Understanding that was updated in December 2021.

The 2002 ODF/DEQ Sufficiency Analysis: A Statewide Evaluation of FPA Effectiveness in Protecting Water Quality identified 12 recommendations that included improvements to the implementing rules or guidance of the FPA and other recommendations under the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds.

ODF, Oregon Department of Agriculture, Oregon Department of State Lands, Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, and DEQ have common interests and responsibilities in protecting waters of the state and other natural resources during the conversion of forestland to non-forest uses. These agencies have a Memorandum of Agreement detailing the process and responsibilities for transferring jurisdiction and ensuring protection of waters of the state during conversion of forestland to other land uses.

  • ​​​DEQ, in cooperation with the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development's Oregon Coastal Management Program, has developed Oregon's Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program designed to restore and protect coastal waters from nonpoint source pollution. Coastal states are also required to implement a set of management measures based on guidance published by EPA.
  • Water Quality Model Code and Guidebook - The goal of the guidebook is to provide local communities, both small cities and counties, with a practical guide to protecting and enhancing water quality through improved land use regulations. The guidebook includes model development code ordinances and comprehensive plan policies that are ready for implementation.
  • DEQ’s Onsite Disposal Systems Program requires that onsite systems be located, designed, installed, operated, inspected, and maintained to prevent the discharge of pollutants to the surface of the ground and, to the extent practicable, reduce the discharge of pollutants into groundwater that is closely hydrologically connected to surface waters.

Ivan Camacho
toll-free in Oregon 800-452-4011, ext. 5088
Overall Nonpoint Source Program information:
Steve Mrazik
Watershed Management Manager 
If you have questions about TMDLs and nonpoint sources in a specific watershed, we encourage you to contact the appropriate Basin Coordinator:
Basin Coordinator List