American Society of Civil Engineers

California’s Coastal Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Program

by Jack H. Gregg, Ph.D., (Water Quality Manager, California Coastal Commission, 45 Fremont Street Suite 2000 San Francisco, CA 94105 E-mail:
Section: Port Dredge Material: Resource or Waste?, pp. 66-78, (doi:

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Document type: Conference Proceeding Paper
Part of: California and the World Ocean ’02: Revisiting and Revising California’s Ocean Agenda
Abstract: California’s Ocean has a problem. The problem is that the most significant source of coastal water pollution in the state is called "nonpoint". Most Californians do not know what that means, those that do know might be hard pressed to describe it and we all contribute to it. Even those of us working on this problem have an evolving understanding of the nature of the problem and are continually looking for the best way to address it. What we can say with confidence is that it will take changes in the behavior of individuals, the practices of businesses and the policies of government to significantly reduce our nonpoint contributions to water pollution. And everyone needs to know what "nonpoint source pollution" means and what he or she can do about it. In the regulatory sense, nonpoint is a catchall term for those sources of pollution that cannot be attributed to specific responsible parties. Nevertheless nonpoint is the major source of pollutants that drives many of the state’s water quality programs. These include the TMDL Program (efforts to deal with waters that routinely exceed water quality standards), the California Clean Beach Initiative (efforts to reduce the frequency of beach closures and postings) and the Municipal Stormwater Program (program to reduce polluted waters that are discharged to storm drains in our cities.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Water pollution
Coastal environment
Nonpoint pollution