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GLOSSARY OF CLEAN WATER TERMS

Airborne pollutants - Water contaminants that initially are emissions into the air, but through rainfall or condensation are transferred to water bodies.

Ecosystem - A community of organisms together with their environment, functioning as a unit.
 
Excess nutrients - Nitrogen and phosphorus compounds found in higher than normal concentrations in water, usually associated with contamination by fertilizers, animal wastes and detergents.
 
Groundwater - Water sources that are below ground level, such as aquifers.
 
Nonpoint source pollution - Contamination of water bodies that is not generated by a single source, but rather is carried by rainwater or snowmelt from diverse sources. Examples include debris and toxic chemicals carried from streets; silt carried from construction sites; fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and animal wastes carried from agricultural operations; air pollution deposited in water bodies by rain; chemicals washed off outdoor industrial sites; and silviculture.
 
Point source pollution - Contamination of water bodies that can be traced to a single source, such as a sewage treatment plant or an industrial operation.
 
Riparian buffer zones - Conservation areas along the banks of natural watercourses that protect the water from the activity on the adjacent land. Conservation strips are vegetated and designed to intercept sediment and pollutants before they reach the water.
 
Surface water - Water sources that are above ground, such as rivers, streams, lakes and reservoirs.
 
Toxic substances - Chemical or other substances capable of causing injury or death to living organisms.
 
Watershed - The entire region draining into a river, river system or other body of water.
 
Watershed-based approach - The management of water resources, based on regional geographic areas, that recognizes all the interconnections of those resources. A watershed approach provides coordinated implementation of programs, working with state, tribal and local governments, private landowners and businesses. Watershed programs might focus on water supply, water quality, water conservation, flood protection, and protection of fish and wildlife resources.
 
Wetlands - Land areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands have three characteristics: 1) hydric soil (soil that is chemically changed by water), 2) hydrology (patterns of water flow), and 3) hydrophytic vegetation (plant species adapted to wet conditions).
 
Wetlands alteration - Any physical change to a wetland that would render it no longer functional as a wetland. These changes include not only deposition of fill into a wetland (covered by the Clean Water Act) but also excavation, drainage, clearing, flooding or constriction of water supply to the area.
 
Resource Extraction - The use of mining, drilling, and natural gas fracking. 

 

 

 


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