Stormwater in North Carolina

As defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), stormwater is the runoff that is "...generated when precipitation from rain and snowmelt events flows over land or impervious surfaces and does not percolate into the ground. As the runoff flows over the land or impervious surfaces (paved streets, parking lots, and building rooftops), it accumulates debris, chemicals, sediment or other pollutants that could adversely affect water quality if the runoff is discharged untreated." The US EPA created a Stormwater program under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) to reduce the environmental impacts of stormwater upon the environment, especially local streams, rivers, and lakes. The NPDES Stormwater program was first created in 1996, and has been required in parts of North Carolina since 2001. NPDES requires larger urban areas to manage stormwater with six minimum measures, and encourages them to do more, especially to utilize best management practices (BMPs) to reduce the impacts of development upon the environment. The technology supporting BMPs seems to improve consistently, but it can be expensive and complex to use in our cities and towns.

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NC DEQ) is delegated significant administrative and regulatory responsibilities to protect and manage water quality conditions in the state by the US EPA. It has dedicated significant resources to addressing stormwater issues throughout the state, which are varied depending upon whether you live in the Coastal Plains, Mountains, or Piedmont regions. NC DEQ has also focused attention on larger water quality concerns in large watersheds such as Jordan Lake, Falls Lake, Tar/Pamlico River, and the Lower Neuse River estuary, where pollution from diverse sources degrade water quality conditions and create unhealthy water conditions. Stormwater is recognized source of pollution in these situations and is tightly regulated through both the federal NPDES program and these state rules for water quality.

Fortunately, North Carolina is rich in resources to addresses the challenges of stormwater. Many of the state's universities are conducting cutting edge research on these topics. NC State University's Biological and Agricultural Engineering (BAE) Department closely involved with NC DEQ in developing and updating the state's Stormwater Design Manual that prescribes all engineering practices communities are permitted to use to try and reduce stormwater impacts. Many of the state's engineering firms are testing newer technologies and ways of constructing buildings to reduce stormwater impacts, and many communities throughout the state have opened their doors to these new approaches at tackling this challenging issues.

SWANC serves the state as a venue where all of this information can be shared and communities can comply with these regulations using the best technologies and programs possible. Stormwater is a public concern - it affects the water we rely upon at home, for recreation, for business and industry, and as the habitat for many animals and plants that are key parts of the state's economy. Clean water is crucial to North Carolina's growth; and clean water relies upon efficient stormwater management. SWANC will do all it can to ensure that our state uses the best tools available to grow and prosper.

Please see our Stormwater Resources page for more information.

Official Website of the Stormwater Association of North Carolina