Nonpoint source pollution derives from many different sources over large geographic areas so regulating and controlling it are challenging. The watershed approach to managing nonpoint source pollution, however, is proving to be an effective technique. Everyone lives in a watershed, or an area of land in which all water drains. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the nation can be divided into approximately 2,149 medium-sized watersheds, averaging about 1,700 square miles in each area. The watershed approach relies on coordinating all relevant federal, state, and local government agencies, and the stakeholders who live in a particular watershed, to help solve priority problems in that watershed. Historically, many water-quality problems were addressed piecemeal in individual water bodies by individual entities, usually limited by political, social, and economic boundaries. The watershed approach, however, relies on the coordination of all entities and stakeholders to help solve the watershed's most serious environmental problems, which in many instances are caused by nonpoint source pollution.
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