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Best Management Practices

Best management practices (BMPs) are conservation and land management practices that reduce or prevent leaching and runoff of pollutants to surface and groundwater. These practices are encouraged for all water users.

Urban BMPs:
Water from storm drains in cities and towns does not carry runoff to water treatment plants, but directly to local streams, rivers, and lakes or reservoirs.  It is important to keep storm water or runoff as free from pollutants as possible.  While the action of one household may seem insignificant, with the combined actions of hundreds and thousands of residents, the potential to pollute local waters is very real.

These are urban best management practices (BMPs) that you can implement to help reduce pollution in our local water bodies:

  • Use Fertilizers Wisely
  • Apply at the right time and in the right amounts.
  • Fertilizer with slow release nitrogen is better for the environment.
  • Get a soil test to see what your soil needs.
  • If more fertilizer is applied than the grass can utilize, it can wash into nearby streams and lakes.
  • Apply Pesticides Wisely
  • Identify the pest, disease, or cause of the problem.
  • Learn when and where pesticides are needed.
  • Select chemicals that are the least toxic or that break down quickly.
  • Always READ the label before mixing and applying pesticides.
  • Do Your Landscaping Practices Prevent Erosion?
  • Soil washed away by rain can pollute streams and lakes.
  • Protect soil by planting groundcover vegetation or using by mulch.
  • Gardens and construction sites with areas of bare soil, especially on sloped land are prone to erosion.
  • Use the mulch setting on your mover and start grass-cycling.  Just leave the grass on the lawn.  It provides needed nutrients to the soil and grass. 
  • To help conserve water, use a broom for cleaning driveways, not the garden hose.
  • Wash Your Vehicle Wisely
  • Use a commercial car wash.  Waste water from these businesses does not enter the storm drains and is sent to a water treatment facility.
  • If washing your car at home, pull you vehicle onto the grass before you start washing.  This will help water the yard as well as keep the soapy water from running straight into the storm drain.
  • Dispose of Pet Waste
  • Pet waste washed into streams, rivers, or lakes, contributes to nutrient pollution.
  • Pet waste can carry disease carrying organisms.
  • Dispose of pet waste properly by collecting the waste and flushing it down the toilet, burying it in the yard about 5 inches deep, or putting it in the trash.
  • Use and Dispose of Household Chemicals Safely
  • Never pour chemicals such as paint or oil onto the yard or directly into storm drains, or the next rain will take the chemicals directly to your local stream.
  • See if there is a household chemical collection center near you and drop off chemicals there if possible.  These centers provide safe, environmental friendly disposal and are usually free.
  • Look for alternative cleaning products that are less hazardous to the environment.

We All Live Downstream!


Agricultural BMPs


Some examples of agricultural BMPs include safe management of animal waste, controlling pests and nutrients, contour farming, crop rotation, and vegetative buffers near streams.  As outlined by the CORE 4 program*, there are 8 types of agricultural BMPs which include:

1. Conservation Tillage - the practice of leaving harvested plant materials on the soil surface to reduce runoff and soil erosion;

2. Crop Nutrient Management - managing all nutrient inputs helps ensure that nutrients are available to meet crop needs while reducing nutrient run off;

3. Pest Management - using various methods for managing pests while protecting soil, water, and air quality;

4. Conservation Buffers - using vegetation strips to provide additional barriers of protection which prevent potential pollutants running off into surface waters;

5. Irrigation Management - increasing irrigation efficiency can reduce nonpoint source pollution of ground and surface waters;

6. Grazing Management - managing livestock grazing to lessen the water quality impacts (e.g. reduce erosion potential);

7. Animal Feeding Operations Management - using runoff control, proper waste storage, and nutrient management to minimize the impacts of animal feeding operations;

8. Erosion and Sediment Control - using practices to conserve and reduce the amount of sediment reaching water bodies, overall protecting agricultural land and water quality.


* Conservation Technology Information Center, "Agricultural Management Practices for Water Quality Protection." U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 12 Sept 2008. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 10 Oct 2008 .