Agua Fria River Petroglyphs

Arizona Water: limited perennial stream reaches and vulnerability to baseflow loss due to increased reliance on ground water requires careful management to assure the sustainability of water resources, community character, and long-term economic health of Arizona.

Overview - What is NEMO?

Arizona NEMO is a charter member of the National NEMO Network. The mission of the NEMO Network is to help communities protect their natural resources while still accommodating growth. NEMO is concerned with any issue related to water quality or quantity in the state of Arizona. NEMO stands for Non-point Education for Municipal Officials.

The goal of NEMO is to educate land use decision makers to make choices and take actions that will lessen nonpoint source pollution and protect natural resources. This will be accomplished by non-regulatory, research-based education using geospatial information and other advanced technologies for outreach, education, analysis and research.

Arizona NEMO helps improve water quality by developing realistic watershed-based plans to achieve water quality standards and protection goals. The three initial watersheds were: the Bill Williams, Upper Gila, and the Verde River. These were followed by plans for the Little Colorado, Agua Fria, San Pedro River, and the rest of the watersheds in the state. These plans identify areas that are susceptible to water quality problems and pollution, sources that need to be controlled, and management measures that must be implemented to protect or improve water quality.

NEMO recognizes that managment of nonpoint source pollutants is inherently spatial, and supports the use of geographical information systems (GIS) to simulate and predict the impact of land-use change. Arizona NEMO integrates watershed management and planning to emphasize the linkages between water supply and quality with research-based, professional education to engage stakeholders and foster better land-use decisions to protect our water resources.

NEMO is working with The University of Arizona, ADEQ and the Water Resources Research Center to increase awareness among county and city officials, stakeholders, and others about how personal decisions impact water quality.

Management tools are being developed to address the following Land Use Activities:

  • Soil Erosion
  • Irrigation Practices ( Agriculture)
  • Livestock Grazing
  • Onsite Septic Systems
  • Mining and Abandoned Mine Lands
  • Forestry
  • Recreation
  • Stormwater and Urban Runoff

Educational outreach is an important aspect of the NEMO program, with stakeholder-group workshops, special event displays, the Arizona NEMO web site, and a toolbox of Best Management Practices being developed and available through the University of Arizona Coorporative Extension Service. Affiliated Extension programs include: Arizona Project WET, Master Watershed Steward Program and Arizona FireWise. Arizona NEMO is a Charter Member of the National NEMO Network.

Arizona NEMO works through the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Service, in partnership with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Water Quality Division, and the Water Resources Research Center. Funding is provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Water Act and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality's Water Quality Protection Division. Additional financial support is provided by the University of Arizona, Technology and Research Initiative Fund (TRIF), Water Sustainability Program through the Water Resources Research Center.


Arizona Water: limited perennial stream reaches and vulnerability to baseflow loss due to increased reliance on ground water requires careful management to assure the sustainability of water resources, community character, and long-term economic health of Arizona.


BLM document on Water Quality laws in Arizona


1. What is Water Quality?


Water Quality is a term used to describe the chemical, physical, and biological characteristics of water, usually in relation to its suitability for a particular purpose, such as drinking water or wildlife use.



2. What is Non-point Source Pollution?

Nonpoint source (NPS) pollution, unlike pollution from industrial and sewage treatment plants, comes from many diffuse sources. NPS pollution is caused by rainfall or snowmelt moving over and through the ground. As the runoff moves, it picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants, finally depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters, and even our underground sources of drinking water.


These pollutants include:

    Excess fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides from agricultural lands and residential areas;

    Oil, grease, and toxic chemicals from urban runoff and energy production;

    Sediment from improperly managed construction sites, crop and forest lands, and eroding streambanks;

    Salt from irrigation practices and acid drainage from abandoned mines;

    Bacteria and nutrients from livestock, pet wastes, and faulty septicsystems;


Atmospheric deposition and hydromodification are also sources of nonpoint source pollution. (



3. What is a TMDL?

A TMDL or Total Maximum Daily Load is a calculation of the maximum amount of a pollutant that a waterbody can receive and still meet water quality standards, and an allocation of that amount to the pollutant's sources. The goal of establishing TMDLs is to assure that water quality standards are attained and maintained. Water quality standards are set by States, Territories, and Tribes. They identify the uses for each waterbody, for example, drinking water supply, contact recreation (swimming), and aquatic life support (fishing), and the scientific criteria to support that use.


A TMDL is the sum of the allowable loads of a single pollutant from all contributing point and nonpoint sources. The calculation must include a margin of safety to ensure that the waterbody can be used for the purposes the State has designated. The calculation must also account for seasonal variation in water quality. The Clean Water Act, section 303, establishes the water quality standards and TMDL programs. (


ADEQ 303 (d) Arizona Impaired Surface Water List



4. What are Best Management Practices (BMPs)?

Best Management Practices (BMPs) to control nonpoint source pollution problems are a combination of structural and non-structural (management or cultural) practices that a scientist, engineer, the government, or a planning agency decides upon to be the most effective and economical way of controlling a specific water quality problem without disturbing the quality of the environment.



5. What is Water Quality Management?

The purpose of water quality management is to achieve sustainable use of our water resources by protecting and enhancing their quality while maintaining economic and social development. Water quality management involves the identification and assessment of point and non-point source pollutants and their sources, and then determining the best management practices to control those pollutants to meet water quality standards.