Point source pollution

Discharge of water from mine adit

Point source water pollution is discharged from a discrete location.

Point source pollutants in groundwater are usually found in a plume that has the highest concentrations of the pollutant nearest the source and diminishing concentrations farther away from the source.

The various types of point source pollutants found in waters are as varied as the types of business, industry, agricultural and urban sources that produce them.

These can include:

  • direct discharges from factories: raw materials and wastes may include pollutants such as solvents, petroleum products (such as oil and gasoline), or heavy metals
  • point sources of pollution from agriculture may include animal feeding operations, animal waste treatment lagoons, or storage, handling, mixing, and cleaning areas for pesticides, fertilizers and petroleum.
  • municipal point sources might include wastewater treatment plants, landfills, garages, motor pools and fleet maintenance facilities.
  • other sources include mine discharge water and mine spoil run-off.

In groundwater some of the most persistent point source pollutants in groundwater are volatile organic compounds, which include manufactured and refined toxic substances, non-aqueous phase organic compounds, such as solvents, oils, paint and fuel products.


Browse NORA for recent publications relating to research into point source pollution


Contact Dan Lapworth for further information