What is stormwater?
Rain water flowing across the land is called stormwater runoff. In vegetated areas such as forests, fields and wetlands, rain water seeps into the ground. However, when rain falls on paved and other impervious surfaces it is conveyed by pipes and ditches directly to wetlands, streams, rivers, and lakes.
Why is stormwater important?
Stormwater runoff often travels across impermeable areas such as pavement and asphalt accumulates in volume, temperature and pollution. These contaminants accrue and, using stormwater as the vehicle, lead directly to our creeks, streams and lakes. As urban development increases, so does the area covered by impervious surfaces: this leads to more polluted and larger volumes of runoff. Increased volume of stormwater causes flooding, scours stream and river substrates, and impacts habitat. This reduces the quality of surrounding bodies of water, a major resource for our communities.
What is stormwater pollution?
Stormwater pollution refers to anything degrading the quality of rain water as it travels across land. This term includes somewhat obvious items (things like pesticides, chemicals, oil, litter and fertilizer), in addition to less regarded sources of pollution. Dirt, soap, pet waste, yard waste, and many other seemingly harmless items are all considered contaminants once collected within bodies of water. Urban surfaces like pavement and cement retain more heat than natural surfaces. As runoff travels along urban surfaces, heat transfers to the water. The rise in water temperature is also considered a form of stormwater pollution. Warmer water disrupts the natural ecosystem of the wetlands, and can be harmful to the life there. The health of our water sources is extremely important for our community, which makes stormwater pollution everybody’s problem.
What is a watershed?
A watershed is an area of land that drains all the streams and rainfall to a common outlet such as the outflow of a reservoir, mouth of a bay, or any point along a stream channel. The word “watershed” is sometimes used interchangeably with “drainage basin” or “catchment”. Little Alamance Creek’s watershed is just under 16 square miles: check out a map on the homepage or download a pdf here. Little Alamance Creek’s watershed includes portions of the City of Burlington and City of Graham. Here’s a short video from the EPA about watersheds:
Want to learn even more? Check out these links!
The City of Burlington and City of Graham work with Stormwater SMART to provide direct education on stormwater. Stormwater SMART concentrates on direct education of children age K-12, but they provide resources for adults to learn too! Do you have an outreach opportunity? Feel free to contact Stormwater SMART directly or you can contact us.
Jordan Lake Rules
In an effort to improve water quality within Jordan Lake, the NC General Assembly passed the Jordan Nutrient Strategy. The Jordan Nutrient Strategy is a set of rules (commonly referred to as the “Jordan Lake Rules”) designed to reduce water pollution. Jordan Lake is a 22 square mile lake in Chatham County with a 1,686 square mile watershed including Burlington, Graham, and the Little Alamance Creek Watershed.
The 4b Demonstration Plan
The 4b Demonstration Plan is the result of collective efforts by the City of Burlington, the City of Graham, and North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT). It developed through common interest to protect and improve water quality within Little Alamance Creek. This plan is among the first of its kind, both state and nationwide! Upon approval in January 2015, it now serves as guidance for this website and each partner’s stormwater program within the watershed.
The US Environmental Protection Agency
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversees implementation of the US Clean Water Act. The Clean Water Act governs environmental regulation throughout the country. The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NC DEQ) is delegated by the EPA to oversee many portions of the Clean Water Act within the state of North Carolina. NC DEQ is the issuer of Burlington, Graham, and NCDOT’s NPDES Phase II Stormwater Permits.
In 1998, the NC DOT established the NC DOT Highway Stormwater Program (HSP). This initiative aims to protect and improve water quality while fulfilling NCDOT’s mission of providing safe, integrated transportation. The HSP created and maintains tools and resources for business partners, educators and the general public. The Hydraulics Unit and Roadside Environmental Unit work together to accomplish this.