What Are Point Sources and Nonpoint Sources?
The Clean Water Act requires all operators of point sources of pollution to get permits. A “point source” is any discernable, confined, and measurable conveyance from which a pollutant is or may be discharged. A point source may be a ditch or pipe discharging pollutants, a container being rinsed of pollutants, or any other source that releases pollutants into a specific area. For instance, a ditch containing fertilizers or pesticides entering navigable waterways is a point source of pollution, and is subject to the permitting requirements of the Clean Water Act. Agricultural stormwater discharges and return flow (also called “nonpoint sources”) from agricultural irrigation systems are not point sources, however, and are therefore not covered by the Clean Water Act (see FE617, Notes and Glossary, for a definition of nonpoint sources). Runoff from non-point sources, especially agricultural non-point sources, is a major source of pollution of the wetlands and waters of Florida. Runoff fro