Ohio Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Program

Traditional images of water pollution often consist of a pipe spewing industrial contaminants into a river. The Clean Water Act helped solve many of Ohio's traditional pollution problems. Remaining problems are more challenging and may be traced to two kinds of pollutants: polluted run off and physical alterations to a stream or river channel. These are referred to as nonpoint sources of pollution since they are the result of a land use and/or man-made changes to a river rather than flowing from a single point of discharge.

Polluted run off is rain or snow melt flowing across the land picking up contaminants such as sediment, nutrients or bacteria, carrying these pollutants to small streams that eventually flow into a larger river. Physical alterations are changes made to a stream channel or stream banks and include activities such as the conversion of headwater streams into drainage ditches, constructing levees and dams, and straightening a stream to encourage improved drainage. Physical alterations also include activities such as removing trees along a river bank or installing rock rip-rap on a river bank to prevent erosion.

Running WaterThe primary causes of nonpoint source impairment in Ohio streams are habitat alteration, hydro-modification to stream channels, sediment and excessive nutrients. Streams in agricultural areas of Ohio appear most frequently to be impaired by physical alterations, such as ditching, and impairments caused from excessive sediment and nutrients. Streams in urban and rapidly developing residential areas of the state are further impaired by nonpoint causes such as lowhead dams and nonpoint source contaminants carried off land surfaces by increased storm water runoff. In the coalfield regions of southeastern Ohio, another cause of impairment is abandoned mine drainage, which has impaired more than 1,300 miles of streams in the region.

Fortunately, management practices to address nonpoint source pollution are becoming more effective. Previous efforts to address these types of problems often consisted of implementing demonstration practices and trying new techniques for managing the ubiquitous nature of nonpoint source pollutants. Years of trial and error are resulting in a much broader understanding of management practices needed to restore impaired waters and improve water quality.

Physical alterations may be addressed using restoration practices such as removing lowhead dams, eliminating or modifying levees and restoring floodplains and riparian forest cover. Headwater streams previously converted into drainage ditches are effectively being restored using natural stream channel design techniques. Polluted run-off is being more effectively reduced using pollution prevention practices such as replacing failing home sewage treatment systems, installing riparian filter strips and controlled drainage systems or restoring ditches to 2-stage channels to allow for more natural stream function. Many other practices designed to slow the flow of nutrients from croplands, and sediment from mining sites and construction sites are also available to improve the health of Ohio's rivers and streams.

Twin Creek Preserve used funds from Ohio EPA for a wetland construction and stream restoration project that turned this highly visible urban watershed into a new streamside park. This 30-acre project was implemented by Mill Creek Watershed Council of Communities, City of Sharonville, Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati and Butler County Water and Sewer.

Ohio EPA's update to the Ohio Nonpoint Source (NPS) Management Plan was approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in June 2014. This important update provides direction and strategic focus to Ohio EPA's programs and activities geared toward reducing the impacts of nonpoint source pollution such as hydromodification, habitat alteration, polluted runoff and adds other activities like Invasive Species management and innovative storm water management demonstrations. Management Practices listed in the update are now eligible for federal Section 319 grant funding and grants awarded from other sources. Since Ohio EPA is not altering the scope of the previously updated nonpoint source management plan, a full revision to the Management Plan was not required. As a result, Ohio EPA focused updated strategies and practices only on programming actions for which Ohio EPA is the primary implementer and/or facilitator.

Ohio's approved NPS Management Plan update incorporates large sections from Ohio's recently submitted Nutrient Reduction Strategy. This information was derived following collaboration and input from a large number of agricultural and urban stakeholders. Moving forward Ohio's NPS Management Plan will implement several provisions of the Nutrient Reduction Strategy. Ohio's updated plan also incorporates objectives for Ohio EPA's Lake Erie Program, as well as strategies for dealing with NPS issues in urban waters as well as protection activities critical to protecting high quality waters. For information about Ohio's updated NPS Management Plan, contact Rick Wilson at (614) 644-2032.

Targeted Agricultural Innovation Request for Proposals (RFP) ​

FFY2018 -Project Application Deadline March 15, 2018


In 1987 the federal Clean Water Act amendments created a national program to control nonpoint source pollution, established under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C 1329). Ohio EPA is the designated water quality agency responsible for administering the Ohio 319 program. Since 1990, Ohio EPA has annually applied for, received and distributed Section 319 grant funds to correct NPS caused water quality impairment to Ohio’s surface water resources. Section 319(h) implementation grant funding is targeted to Ohio waters where NPS pollution is a significant cause of aquatic life use impairments. The cornerstone of Ohio’s 319 program is working with watershed groups and others who are implementing locally developed watershed management plans and restoring surface waters impaired by NPS pollution.

Annual Report

Section 319 Subgrant Success Stories

Section 319 Project Summary Reports

Section 319 Subgrant Guidance Sheets

Previous Year's Section 319 Grant Application Materials






General Section 319 Grant Documents

  • FAQs - Local Match Contributions for 319 Grants
  • USEPA Volunteer Monitor's Guide to Quality Assurance Project Plans (QAPP)
    If new, quantitative environmental data or direct environmental measurements are taken as part of a 319 implementation grant, and the data will be used to draw environmental conclusions (such as, but not limited to: pollutant loading reductions, design criteria for management practice implementation, environmental management decisions, restoration options, mapping, field verification of data, etc.), the subgrantee must submit a QAPP to consistent with the above-referenced guidance.
  • 2003 Health and Safety Checklist
    This checklist is provided to outline key information to recognize and plan for potential field hazards when conducting water resource sampling and evaluation work per an Ohio EPA approved QAPP.

Nine-Element Nonpoint Source Implementation Strategies (9-Element NPS-IS) in Ohio

  • The 9-Element NPS-IS is a strategic plan that provides assurance to nonpoint source grant programs and institutions (i.e., U.S. EPA) that, as described, a proposed water quality project meets the 9 Essential Elements per U.S. EPA §319 Program Guidance (April 2013).
  • For a project to be eligible for Ohio EPA Section 319 Funding, a proposed project must be described in a U.S. EPA-approved 9-Element NPS-IS for the HUC-12 watershed in which the project is located.
  • The NPS-IS ensures that potentially funded projects are: rooted in the best science available; located in areas that will address the worst problems; and that have the administrative, evaluation, and educational components needed to ensure that the water resource will achieve as much long term benefit as possible.
  • The NPS-IS is a living strategic planning document that summarizes causes and sources of impairment, established critical areas, identifies quantifiable objectives to address causes and sources of impairment, and describes projects designed to meet those objectives.
  • Each NPS-IS is unique at the HUC-12 scale. The NPS-IS is designed to evolve as projects come and go. Likewise, every updated version (containing new projects and/or new data) must be reviewed and approved by Ohio EPA and U.S. EPA.

NPS-IS Plan Templates & Approved Plans

For More Information

Rick Wilson, (614) 644-2032

Current List of Watersheds with Approved 9-Element Nonpoint Source Implementation Strategies

HUC 12 HUC 12 Name NPS-IS Version and Approval Date
041000010306 Tenmile Creek Version 1.0, Aug. 24, 2017
041000010307 Heldman Ditch-Ottawa River Version 1.0, Aug. 2, 2017
041000090201 Preston Run-Maumee River Version 1.0, Aug. 7, 2017
041000090803 Wolf Creek Version 1.0, Aug. 17, 2017
041000090804 Heilman Ditch-Swan Creek Version 1.0, May 22, 2017
041000090904 Delaware Creek-Maumee River Version 1.0, May 10, 2017
041000100706 Otter Creek-Frontal Lake Erie Version 1.0, May 12, 2017
041100010201 Headwaters East Branch Rocky River Version 1.0, June 22, 2017
041100020203 Lake Rockwell-Cuyahoga River Version 1.0, April 6, 2017
041100020501 Pond Brook Version 1.0, July 5, 2017
041100020502 Headwaters Tinkers Creek Version 1.0, July 6, 2017
041100020504 Town of Twinsburg-Tinkers Creek Version 1.0, Aug. 8, 2017
041100020601 Mill Creek—Cuyahoga River Version 1.0, July 17, 2017
041100020603 Big Creek Version 1.0, June 9, 2017
041100020604 Cuyahoga Heights-Cuyahoga River (West Creek) Version 1.0, June 9, 2017
041100030204 McKinley Creek-Frontal Lake Erie Version 1.0, May 22, 2017
041100030301 Silver Creek Version 1.0, June 19, 2017
041100030303 McFarland Creek-Aurora Branch Version 1.0, April 13, 2017
041100030304 Beaver Creek-Chagrin River Version 1.0, March 1, 2017
041100030302 Headwaters Aurora Branch Version 1.0, May 12, 2017
041100030401 East Branch Chagrin River Version 1.0, May 10, 2017
041100030402 Griswold Creek-Chagrin River
  • Version 1.1
  • Version 1.0, March 9, 2017
    Version 1.1, Nov. 27, 2017 
    041100030501 Marsh Creek-Frontal Lake Erie Version 1.0, May 10, 2017
    041100030503 Euclid Creek Version 1.0, June 7, 2017
    041100040606 Big Creek—Lower Grand Version 1.0, July 27, 2017
    041100040607 Red Creek-Grand River Version 1.0, May 8, 2017
    050302040402 Baldwin Run Version 1.0, May 12, 2017
    050302040801 Hamley Run—Hocking River
    Version 1.0, Feb. 6, 2018
    050600011503 Headwaters Blacklick Creek Version 1.0, Feb. 22, 2017
    050902030103 Sharon Creek-Mill Creek Version 1.0, Feb. 24, 2017
    050902021102 Fivemile Creek-East Fork Little Miami River Version 1.0, July 31, 2017
    051201010201 Chickasaw Creek Version 1.0, June 29, 2017
    051201010202 Headwaters Beaver Creek Version 1.0, June 7, 2017

    Current List of Watersheds with Equivalent Nonpoint Source Implementation Strategies

    HUC_12 HUC_12_Name
    041000030104 Bird Creek-East Branch St Joseph River
    041000030106 Clear Fork-East Branch St Joseph River
    041000030204 West Branch St Joseph River
    041000030301 Nettle Creek
    041000030302 Cogswell Cemetery-St Joseph River
    041000030303 Eagle Creek
    041000030304 Village of Montpelier-St Joseph River
    041000030305 Bear Creek
    041000030306 West Buffalo Cemetery-St Joseph River
    041000030402 Headwaters Fish Creek
    041000030405 Town of Alvarado-Fish Creek
    041000030406 Cornell Ditch-Fish Creek
    041000030501 Bluff Run-St. Joseph River
    041000030502 Big Run
    041000030503 Russell Run-St. Joseph River
    041000030505 Willow Run-St. Joseph River
    041000030506 Sol Shank Ditch-St. Joseph River
    041000050201 Zuber Cutoff
    041000050202 North Chaney Ditch-Maumee River
    041000050203 Marie DeLarme Creek
    041000050204 Gordon Creek
    041000050205 Sixmile Cutoff-Maumee River
    041000050206 Platter Creek
    041000050207 Sulphur Creek-Maumee River
    041000050208 Snooks Run-Maumee River
    * All proposed §319 projects or GLRI projects in these HUCs must be consistent with the practices described in these U.S. EPA-approved plans.

    Current List of Watersheds with Equivalent Acid Mine Drainage Abatement and Treatment (AMDAT) Plans

    HUC_12 HUC_12_Name
    050301010701 Headwaters Yellow Creek
    050301010702 Elkhorn Creek
    050301010703 Upper North Fork
    050301010704 Long Run-Yellow Creek
    050301010801 Town Fork
    050301010802 Headwaters North Fork Yellow Creek
    050301010803 Salt Run-North Fork Yellow Creek
    050301010804 Hollow Rock Run-Yellow Creek
    050301060303 Cox Run-Wheeling Creek
    050302020701 Headwaters Leading Creek
    050302020702 Mud Fork
    050302020703 Ogden Run-Leading Creek
    050302020704 Little Leading Creek
    050302020705 Thomas Fork
    050302020706 Parker Run-Leading Creek
    050302040101 Center Branch
    050302040102 Headwaters Rush Creek
    050302040103 Clark Run-Rush Creek
    050302040201 Headwaters Little Rush Creek
    050302040501 Little Monday Creek
    050302040502 Lost Run-Monday Creek
    050302040503 Snow Fork
    050302040504 Kitchen Run-Monday Creek
    050302040701 East Branch Sunday Creek
    050302040702 Dotson Creek-Sunday Creek
    050302040703 West Branch Sunday Creek
    050302040704 Greens Run-Sunday Creek
    050302040901 Miners and Hyde Forks
    050302040902 McDougall Branch
    050302040903 Kasler Creek-Federal Creek
    050302040904 Sharps Fork
    050302040905 Big Run-Federal Creek
    050400010804 Huff Run
    050400011304 Buttermilk Creek-Stillwater Creek
    050400011802 Mud Run-Tuscarawas River
    050400040501 Black Fork
    050400040502 Upper Moxahala Creek
    050400040503 Middle Moxahala Creek
    050400040504 Lower Moxahala Creek
    050400040801 Brush Creek
    050901010201 East Branch Raccoon Creek
    050901010202 West Branch Raccoon Creek
    050901010203 Brushy Fork
    050901010204 Twomile Run-Raccoon Creek
    050901010205 Town of Zaleski-Raccoon Creek
    050901010301 Hewett Fork
    050901010302 Headwaters Elk Fork
    050901010303 Flat Run-Elk Fork
    050901010304 Flat Run-Raccoon Creek
    050901010401 Headwaters Little Raccoon Creek
    050901010402 Dickason Run
    050901010403 Meadow Run-Little Raccoon Creek
    050901010404 Deer Creek-Little Raccoon Creek
    050901010501 Pierce Run
    050901010502 Strongs Run
    050901010503 Flatlick Run-Raccoon Creek
    050901010504 Robinson Run-Raccoon Creek
    050901010601 Indian Creek
    050901010602 Barren Creek-Raccoon Creek
    050901010603 Mud Creek-Raccoon Creek
    050901010604 Bullskin Creek
    050901010605 Claylick Run-Raccoon Creek
    * All proposed §319 projects in these HUCs must be consistent with the practices described in the plan

    Sediment and Phosphorus Reduction in the Lye Creek Watershed, Hancock County


    Additional Great Lakes Restoration Initiative project summaries are available in the Section 319 Program Annual Reports

    Russ Gibson
    Nonpoint Source Section Manager

    Ohio EPA, Division of Surface Water
    50 W. Town St., Ste. 700
    PO Box 1049
    Columbus, OH 43216-1049

    (614) 644-2020 [voice]
    (614) 644-2745 [fax]
    email: russ.gibson@epa.ohio.gov