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Water Quality

NPS Best Management Practices Compendium

Best Management Practices (BMPs) have been defined as practices or combinations of practices, industrial techniques and good housekeeping principles determined to be the most effective and practical known means of preventing or reducing the amount of non-point source pollution. The overall philosophy is to conduct everyday activities in an ecologically sound manner in order to keep pollutants out of the water, since this is generally cheaper and more practical than getting them back out later. They are meant to protect and maintain the environment including soil, air and water resources and the associated dependent organisms. There are two general types of BMPs:

  1. treatment control or structural BMPs which involve after the fact removal of contaminants; and
  2. source control or nonstructural BMPs which are designed to prevent contaminants from getting into the water in the first place.

BMPs must be feasible and economically-competitive practices and should be tested under real world conditions. They are subject to change as new and better practices are discovered and evaluated. Minor differences in local conditions may result in different BMPs in order to achieve the same degree of protection from one site to the next. This means that today's BMP may be an ephemeral guide and constant research is needed to replace old BMPs with new ones. This state of constant change is not compatible with fixed legislated practices; a much more reactive process is needed. BMPs should indicate a desired goal and some currently known ways to approach this goal, leaving the opportunity for immediate implementation of newer and better ways as they become available.

As a service to municipalities, regional offices, contractors and other agencies who are trying to control non-point source pollution, we have begun to collect in one document many accepted best management practices from around the world. Since this is a large and active field of study and new materials are becoming available daily, we have chosen to put the information on a web page so that it can be readily and economically updated and amended as new information becomes available. This will be a living, changing, document.

NPS Best Management Practices Compendium

Other online BMP documents are:


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