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Want to learn more about stormwater? You're in the right place!

What is stormwater?

Rain water that flows 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 hard surfaces it runs off and is conveyed by pipes and ditches directly to wetlands, streams, rivers, and lakes.

Why is stormwater important?

When it rains, stormwater carries pollutants directly into creeks, streams, and lakes without being treated. Stormwater is not treated prior to going into these surface waters. Many of our water pollution problems are due in large part to pollutants that are washed off the land by storms. When small amounts of AWC&K-Photos-83pollutants from many sources are combined, they can cause big water quality problems. Often these “pollutants” aren’t considered pollutants in small amounts but when combined the total amount reduces water quality.

Stormwater runoff increases the volume of water in streams because pavement surrounding the stream is impervious and does not allow rainwater to infiltrate into the soil. As urban development occurs, an increase in the volume of this stormwater runoff is generated. Increased stormwater causes flooding, scours stream and river substrates, and impacts habitat. Since less water infiltrates into the ground, there is less water available for stream base flows.

What is stormwater pollution?

Stormwater pollution can include dirt, soap, litter, pet waste, oil, fertilizer, yard waste pesticides, chemicals, and many other items. Some of the water pollutants, like fertilizer and yard waste, are used everyday but become pollutants when they runoff and collect within water bodies. Stormwater pollution is everybody’s problem.
Stormwater Runoff Pollutes

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 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 school age children but they are also available for adult education as well. Do you have an outreach opportunity? Feel free to contact Stormwater Smart directly or you can contact us.

The Jordan Lake Rules are the common name of the Jordan Nutrient Strategy which is a set of rules passed by the NC General Assembly with the intent to improve water quality within Jordan Lake. Jordan Lake is a 22 square mile lake in Chatham County with a 1,686 square mile watershed that includes Burlington, Graham, and the Little Alamance Creek Watershed.

The City of Burlington, City of Graham, and NCDOT worked together on a 4b Demonstration Plan to begin the process of improving the water quality within Little Alamance Creek. The 4b Demonstration Plan is one of the first of its kind, in both the state and the country. The 4b Plan was approved in January 2015 and is the document that serves as the guidance for both this website and the Cities and NCDOT’s stormwater programs within Little Alamance Creek.

The US Environmental Protection Agency 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 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.

The NC DOT Highway Stormwater Program (HSP) was established in 1998 as an NCDOT-wide initiative to protect and improve water quality while fulfilling NCDOT’s mission of providing and supporting a safe and integrated transportation system that enhances the state. A joint effort of the Hydraulics Unit and Roadside Environmental Unit, the HSP has created and maintains tools and resources for business partners, educators and the general public.

The City of Burlington is in Alamance County and the City’s Stormwater Program is housed within the City’s Water Resources Department.

The City of Graham is in Alamance County and the City’s Stormwater Program is implemented by a combination of staff and consultant engineering firm Alley, Williams, Carmen, and King, Inc.

How can I find out more?

Contact us!