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Senate EPW Hearing on Nonpoint Source Pollution

On January 8, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a hearing entitled, “The Nonpoint Source Management Program Under the Clean Water Act: Perspectives from States.” During the hearing, Jennifer Zygmunt, the Nonpoint Source Program Coordinator for the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, and Ben Grumbles, Secretary for Maryland’s Department of the Environment, provided testimony and responded to questions. Key discussion points during the hearing included:

  • EPA should streamline the 319 (nonpoint source) program grant application process to make it easier to complete.
  • The 319 program state funding allocation formula should be reevaluated to consider increasing weight for rangeland and grazing activities in addition to cropland, as well as potentially considering tourism populations.
  • Increased coordination is needed with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, particularly with the National Water Quality Initiative program that selects priority watersheds in each state to implement conservation projects with landowners.
  • Additional support is needed for small rural communities where there is little to no revenue available for required 319 program matching funds.
  • More federal 319 funding is needed for all states and more flexibility is needed within the program to support partnerships.

Other discussion topics during the hearing included the need to enforce requirements for the Chesapeake Bay TMDL efforts while implementing voluntarily efforts for nonpoint source programs, and the need to consider how conservation and water quality protection can be measured and paired with flood and climate impact mitigation. To view the video archive of the webcast and read the written testimony, visit the Senate EPW website.