NSPS Specialists request more Land-use and Island Planning

Non-point source pollution (NSPS) managers and researchers from the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico met on May 6-7 for the 10th NSPS Conference“Changing Direction and Directing Change: Solutions to NSPS” at the Wyndham Sugar Bay Beach Resort in St. Thomas, USVI (http://www.usvircd.org/NPS/). The conference was also open to the participation of local students in several workshops aimed to bring about awareness regarding environmental issues and their impact on our ecosystems.

Topics presented during the meeting include habitat impact and remediation, coastal and watershed management, land-use and island planning, and the importance of education and outreach. One of the main focuses was to encourage people to act responsibly when developing and constructing. Special emphasis was also given to attempting a more aggressive approach to increase public awareness by educating young students about the effects of NSPS and getting them more involved in community activities that encourage monitoring local areas prone to NSPS. Innovative strategies for public participation in NSPS management were also proposed to better the public’s knowledge about these environmental issues and their impact. However, most admitted that, in general, bad habits are hard to break.

During the conference, we asked several experts and researchers (n=16) to answer a few questions regarding the short- and long-term studies needed to improve management of NSPS and the obstacles that are often encountered. Of the participants, 94% stated over 6 years of experience in the field and, of these, 38% possessed more than 16 years (Fig. 1). More than half of those questioned are or have been employed by the government (56%), whereas 38% are associated with a non-governmental institution (Fig. 2). Land-use and island planning was most frequently identified as a short-term research need for NSPS, with watershed management as the second most recurrent need selected (Fig. 3). Long-term research needs varied widely including the importance of linking ecosystem assessments to public health, the effects of public awareness, baseline data on physical-chemical-biological parameters of NSPS, impacts of climate change, impacts of wastewater treatment on local farms in small islands, and soil nutrient budgets. Obstacles that are commonly found include the failure to apply research information in resource management and conservation, and the lack of participation of local resource users in management processes (Fig. 4). Not enough skilled and trained personnel was also considered a major concern.

Figure 1. Percentage of participants that are or have been employed by the government.


Figure 2. Years of experience by participants in an NSPS-associated field.


Figure 3. Short-term studies needed for improving NSPS management.


Figure 4. Obstacles that hinder effective NSPS management.


Sea Grant Puerto Rico would like to thank those that participated in our survey and we will be disseminating this information to National Sea Grant and NOAA. We expect that some of our sponsored research projects will help address these issues of main concern regarding NSPS management.

More information about NSPS management:

What is nonpoint source pollution? Basic Information (EPA)

Video – What is nonpoint source pollution? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgJzkmJ-lwU&rel=0

An Overview of Land Based Sources of Marine Pollution (UNEP-CEP)

“Greening” Storm Water with Rain Gardens – Virgin Islands RC&D Success Story (USDA NRCS)

Plan para el control de la contaminación  por fuentes dispersas en la zona costanera de Puerto Rico (PR DRNA)

Photo: Sea Grant Archive

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