History of Stormwater Management

The Clean Water Act of 1972 helps protect rivers, streams, and lakes from pollution. As part of this act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). The NPDES is used to track and control sources of pollution through permits. The EPA delegated the authority to issue and to enforce NPDES permits to the State of North Carolina in 1975.

In 1990, cities with large populations were required to get NPDES permits for their stormwater drainage systems. This water is considered a source of pollution because of all the contamination it collects as it flows over impervious surfaces. In North Carolina this meant that Durham, Raleigh, Charlotte, Greensboro, Fayetteville, and Winston-Salem all had new stormwater requirements.

Activities Required
This new NPDES permit from the State of North Carolina requires the city to develop a stormwater management program that has the following activities:
  • Provide education about polluted stormwater runoff
  • Give residents the opportunity to be involved in activities that reduce polluted stormwater runoff
  • Find and stop illegal sources of pollution
  • Control runoff from construction sites both during and after construction
  • Take steps to prevent runoff from buildings and activities
  • Operate and maintain the public drainage system
All of these activities are designed with the goal of making sure clean water is available both now and in the future.

Contaminated Water Issues
Polluted stormwater runoff is one of the largest causes of water pollution in North Carolina. Why do we care? We care because when our water is polluted we all pay in one way or another. Water contaminated with sediment and pollution takes more money to treat before it can be used for drinking water. Tourism and recreation businesses suffer along with residents when swimming, fishing, and boating are not allowed because of safety concerns.

Damage from unmitigated flooding can raise merchant prices and insurance rates. We care that our polluted water flows to the Atlantic Ocean and causes problems for many other people, plants, and animals along the way. And the list goes on! Because everyone plays a role in creating the pollution in stormwater runoff, we all have a role in cleaning it up.