The goal of the nonpoint source program is to improve water quality on the Reservation through the implementation of stream and riparian habitat restorations, education and outreach on nonpoint source pollution issues, and agricultural irrigation and management improvements through collaborative efforts.
Nonpoint source pollution comes from many diffuse locations such as agricultural fields, storm runoff, degraded stream banks, and degraded riparian areas within a watershed. Nonpoint source pollution can not be regulated through the clean water act and is administered by the nonpoint source program.
Degraded streams and riparian areas are a large contributor of nonpoint source pollution. There are many streams and riparian areas on the Reservation that are degraded due to hydromodification (the alteration of hydrologic characteristics of a water body), agricultural activities, road disturbance, and from other activities that have impacted the watershed. Streams that are experiencing excessive erosion due to insatiability contribute large amounts of sediment to the watershed which can have adverse effects to aquatic life and can have other negative effects on the dynamics of the stream. Excessive bank erosion is not only an issue for water quality, but can also threaten infrastructure like homes, roads, etc. Degraded riparian areas are not as capable as healthy riparian areas in filtering pollutants before they enter a creek or river and they provide less stability to stream banks than healthy riparian areas. Healthy riparian areas are not only good for water quality but also provide essential habitat for many important species of plants and animals. Since 1999, the nonpoint source program has been working on stream restoration projects that stabilize stream banks and improve the surrounding riparian area.
Agricultural Best Management Practices (Cost Share Program)
Since 2004, the SUIT §319 program has been utilizing EPA §319 competitive grant funds to implement agricultural best management practices (BMP’s) through the §319 program’s cost share program on tribal and private land within the exterior boundary of the Southern Ute Indian Reservation. The BMP’s that the cost share program supplies are improved irrigation equipment (typically gated pipe), riparian exclusion fencing, field filter strips, and off stream watering sources. Currently, there are 34 active cost share participants that cover more than 760 acres within the Southern Ute Indian Reservation, with the majority of the projects within watersheds that flow to the PineRiver. The types of BMP’s that have been implemented by the cost share program are: gated pipe (approx. 760 acres), riparian exclusion fencing (approx. 29 acres), and field filter strips (approx. 32.2 acres). Annually, the implemented BMP’s reduce approximately 354 pounds of nitrogen, 51 pounds of phosphorous, and 32,000 pounds of sediment from entering the creeks and rivers on the Reservation. If you or someone you know may be interested in implementing agricultural BMP’s please contact the nonpoint source program.
Education and Outreach
The nonpoint source program also strives to offer as much education and outreach as possible since nonpoint source pollution cannot be reduced without community involvement and participation. The majority of nonpoint source pollution is generated by the activities of individuals and the community such as: improper disposal of chemicals and waste, littering, improper land management practices, etc. Since the individuals and the community play a crucial role in water quality in their area, education and outreach is essential in changing the attitudes, activities, and awareness of the local community to improve water quality on a profound scale for the long term. If you would like to learn more about nonpoint source pollution or would like to discuss outreach opportunities, please contact the nonpoint source program.