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Glossary of Terms
  • 303D List- Reports on streams and lakes identified as impaired for one or more pollutants, and do not meet one or more water quality standards. Impaired waters are identified through assessment and monitoring programs.
  • Berm- Narrow shelf, path, or ledge typically at the top or bottom of a slope; also a mound or wall of earth or sand.
  • Biofertilizer- Biological wastes used to improve the fertility of the land. Biological wastes do not contain any chemicals which are detrimental to the living soil. They are extremely beneficial in enriching the soil with those micro-organisms, which produce organic nutrients for the soil and help combat diseases. The farm produce does not contain traces of hazardous and poisonous materials.
  • Biological control- The use of living organisms, such as predators, parasitoids, and pathogens, to control pest insects, weeds, or diseases. It can be used as part of an overall Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program to reduce the legal, environmental, and public safety hazards of chemicals. In addition, it may be a more economical alternative to some insecticides. Some biological control measures can actually prevent economic damage to agricultural crops.
  • Bio-retention- A soil and plant-based stormwater Best Management Practice (BMP) employed to filter runoff from developed communities. They are commonly located in parking lot islands or within small pockets on residential land. Surface runoff is directed into shallow, landscaped depressions. These depressions are designed to incorporate many of the pollutant removal mechanisms that operate in forested ecosystems. During storms, runoff ponds above the mulch and soil in the system. Runoff from larger storms is generally diverted past the facility to the storm drain system. The remaining runoff filters through the mulch and prepared soil mix.
  • BMPs- Best Management Practices; innovative, dynamic, and improved environmental protection practices applied to any environmental problem area.
  • CWA- Clean Water Act; Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972. The Act established the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States. It gave EPA the authority to implement pollution control programs such as setting wastewater standards for industry. The Clean Water Act also continued requirements to set water quality standards for all contaminants in surface waters. The Act made it unlawful for any person to discharge any pollutant from a point source into navigable waters, unless a permit was obtained under its provisions. It also funded the construction of sewage treatment plants under the construction grants program and recognized the need for planning to address the critical problems posed by nonpoint source pollution.
  • Diversion channel- A channel constructed across the slope with a supporting ridge on the lower side. Its purpose is to divert excess water from one area for use, or safe disposal in other areas. Each diversion must have a safe and stable outlet with adequate capacity.
  • Ecohydrological engineering- A scientific concept that represents a new approach to freshwater resource restoration and sustainable management.
  • Effluent- Generally considered to be pollution in the form of outflow from sources such as a sewage treatment facility or the wastewater discharge from industrial facilities. An effluent sump pump, for instance, pumps waste from toilets installed below a main sewage line.
  • EPA- Environmental Protection Agency; the mission of the EPA is to protect human health and the environment. Since 1970, the EPA has been working for a cleaner, healthier environment for the American people. The EPA works to develop and enforce regulations that implement environmental laws enacted by Congress. The EPA is responsible for researching and setting national standards for a variety of environmental programs. Responsibility is then delegated to the states to implement these standards, issue permits, monitor and enforce compliance. Where national standards are not met, the EPA can issue sanctions and take other steps to assist the states in reaching the desired levels of environmental quality.
  • Eutrophication- A process whereby water bodies, such as lakes, estuaries, or slow-moving streams receive excess nutrients that stimulate excessive plant growth (algae, periphyton attached algae, and nuisance plants weeds). This enhanced plant growth, often called an algal bloom, reduces dissolved oxygen in the water when dead plant material decomposes and can cause other organisms to die. Nutrients can come from many sources, such as fertilizers applied to agricultural fields, golf courses, and suburban lawns; deposition of nitrogen from the atmosphere; erosion of soil containing nutrients; and sewage treatment plant discharges.
  • Groundwater- Water that collects or flows beneath the Earth's surface, filling the porous spaces in soil, sediment, and rocks. Groundwater originates from rain and melting snow and ice, and is the source of water for aquifers, springs, and wells.    
  • Holding bed- A bed where plant material is temporally held until planted in its permanent location. Its main purpose is to provide a spot for plants that don't have a place in your garden at the moment.
  •  Impermeable/Impervious surfaces- Constructed surfaces - rooftops, sidewalks, roads, and parking lots - covered by impenetrable materials such as asphalt, concrete, brick, and stone. These materials seal surfaces, repel water and prevent precipitation and melt-water from infiltrating soils.
  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM)- An effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices. The IPM approach can be applied to both agricultural and non-agricultural settings, such as the home, garden, and workplace. IPM takes advantage of all appropriate pest management options including, but not limited to, the cautious use of pesticides. In contrast, organic food production applies many of the same concepts as IPM but limits the use of pesticides to those that are produced from natural sources, as opposed to synthetic chemicals.
  • Intercropping- The agricultural practice of cultivating two or more crops in the same space at the same time. It may benefit crop yield or the control of some kind of pest, or may have other agronomic benefits. Intercropping of compatible plants also encourages biodiversity, by providing a habitat for a variety of insects and soil organisms that would not be present in a single crop environment. This biodiversity can in turn help to limit outbreaks of crop pests (Altieri 1994) by increasing the diversity or abundance of natural enemies, such as spiders or parasitic wasps. Increasing the complexity of the crop environment through intercropping also limits the places where pests can find optimal foraging or reproductive conditions.
  • Jordan Lake Rules- due to Jordan Lake being put on the 303D List, a proposed set of rules have been created. The rules are mainly there to stop more nitrogen and phosphorous from getting into the lake.
  • Leaching- in agriculture, it refers to the loss of water-soluble plant nutrients from the soil, due to rain and irrigation. It also refers to the practice of applying a small amount of excess irrigation where the water has a high salt content to avoid salts from building up in the soil.
  • MS4s- Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System.
  • Nitrogen- Nitrogen is a Group 15 element. Nitrogen makes up about 78% of the atmosphere by volume. Nitrogen is used by living organisms to produce a number of complex organic molecules like amino acids, proteins, and nucleic acids.
  • Non-point source pollution- Pollutants detected in a concentrated water source such as a stream, river or lake, which comes from a wide range of sources. These pollutants come from sources the common person has control over; the accumulation of pollutants as a result of common, wide spread activities in both urban and rural areas.
  • NPDES- National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System; program controls water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States.
  • NPDES permit- Wastewater and stormwater discharges are regulated primarily by wastewater discharge permits, which stipulate specific limits and conditions of allowable discharge. The permit is required for disposal of waste material into "waters of the state," which include rivers, lakes, streams, and all underground waters and aquifers.  The permit is also required for certain industrial users that discharge industrial waste into sanitary sewer systems. A permit may be required for facilities that have stormwater runoff to surface waters.
  • Nutrient loading- is a cause of eutrophication. Bodies of water receive excess nutrients that stimulate excessive plant growth which in turn causes algal blooms in the water.
  • Nutrient runoff- the flow of water, from rain, snowmelt, or other sources, over the land surface that can pick up soil contaminants such as petroleum, pesticides (in particular herbicides and insecticides), or fertilizers that become discharge or nonpoint source pollution.
  • Percolation- the slow passage of a liquid through a filtering medium; "the percolation of rainwater through the soil"; "the infiltration of seawater through the lava."
  • Phase I regulations- Apply to medium and large MS4s. A medium MS4 is a system that is located in an area with a population between 100,000 - 249,999, and a large MS4 is a system located in an area with a population of 250,000 or more. Other MS4s, including those under the 100,000 threshold, are also large and medium MS4s. These are systems which were designated by NPDES permitting authorities due to interrelationships to other medium and large MS4s.
  • Phase II regulations- Apply to regulated small MS4s. A regulated small MS4 is a system located in an urbanized area as defined by the Bureau of the Census or a system located outside of an urbanized area but designated by the permitting authority. Example criteria for designating a MS4 outside of an urbanized area include population (e.g., 10,000 people), potential for water quality impacts, and proximity to other regulated MS4s.
  • Phosphorous- is an essential component of living systems and is found in nervous tissue, bones and cell protoplasm. It also contributes to eutrophication; the increasing phosphor concentrations in surface waters raise the growth of phosphate-dependent organisms, such as algae and duckweed.
  • Point source pollution- happens when a pollutant comes from a definite source. It is a single identifiable localized source of air, water, thermal, and noise or light pollution. The sources are called point sources because in mathematical modeling, they can be approximated as a mathematical point to simplify analysis.
  • Retrofitting- refers to the addition of new technology or features to older systems. It describes the measures taken in the manufacturing industry to allow new or updated parts to be fitted to old or outdated assemblies. In terms of the environment, it could be a company changing their machinery to comply with EPA standards about something.
  • Riparian buffer zones­- is the interface between land and a flowing surface water body. These zones are important natural biofilters, protecting aquatic environments from excessive sedimentation, polluted surface runoff and erosion. They supply shelter and food for many aquatic animals and shade that is an important part of stream temperature regulation. They can play a role in lowering nitrate contamination in surface runoff from agricultural fields, which runoff would otherwise damage ecosystems and human health.
  • Sand bed/filter- a filtration system used in some saltwater aquariums; a bed of fine sand with a minimum depth of 4 to 6 inches to ensure a layer of water in the lower portion of the sand will receive poor circulation. An established deep sand bed is composed of live sand which, like live rock, and contain bacteria and other marine organisms such as worms, crabs, snails, and stars. The creatures burrow and overturn the top 2 to 3 inches of sand in search of nourishment, which allows water circulation much deeper into the sand than would be possible without the creature's aid.
  • Sediment loading- sediment is any particulate matter that can be transported by fluid flow and which eventually is deposited as a layer of solid particles on the bed or bottom of a body of water or other liquid. One of the main causes of riverine sediment load siltation stems from when the ground surface is stripped of vegetation and then seared of all living organisms; the upper soils are vulnerable to both wind and water erosion.
  • Stakeholders- is a party who affects, or can be affected by, the company's actions. In terms of the environment the company is more than likely the government or some other authority.
  • Stormwater discharge- precipitation that does not infiltrate into the ground or evaporate due to impervious land surfaces, but instead flows onto adjacent land or water areas and is routed into drain/sewer systems. The water from the drain/sewer is known to be dumped straight into rivers in the watershed of that area.Sub-basin- a sub-basin is a smaller section of the basin. For example, there is the Cape Fear river basin; a sub-basin would be the Haw River watershed.Swale- is a low place in a tract of land, usually moister and often having ranker vegetation than the adjacent higher land.
  • Tillage- is the agricultural preparation of the soil by digging it up. It can be done by a using various combinations of equipment: plough, disk plough, harrow, dibble, hoe, shovel, rotary tillers, subsoiler, ridge or bed forming tillers, roller.
  • Tributary- is a stream or river which flows into a “parent” river, and which does not flow directly into a sea.
  • Topographic Map: a map showing the relief features of the earth's surface, usu. by means of contour lines to show changes in elevation. It is a detailed and accurate graphic representation of cultural and natural features on the ground.
  • Watershed- is the area of land that catches rain and snow and drains or seeps into a marsh, stream, river, lake or groundwater. Also a ridge of high land dividing two areas that are drained by different river systems. On one side of a watershed, rivers and streams flow in one direction; on the other side they flow in another direction. In addition it’s the area drained by a water system.
  • Wetlands- land that has a wet and spongy soil, as a marsh, swamp, or bog. A lowland area, such as a marsh or swamp that is saturated with moisture, especially when regarded as the natural habitat of wildlife.


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