When rain falls in a natural setting, almost all stormwater infiltrates the soils and groundwater or is taken up by vegetation. But when land is developed, the impervious cover (roads, rooftops, driveways, parking lots) increases the volume of stormwater that is not absorbed by the land and accelerates the transport of stormwater across the surface of the land. As impervious cover increases, so does the volume and velocity of contaminated surface runoff into streams, lakes and sounds.
Polluted stormwater runoff, including sediment from poorly maintained construction sites, is the number one reason for poor water quality in North Carolina and one of the main causes of pollution in the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico rivers. Sediment can cause severe problems for creeks, rivers and estuaries on which we depend for our drinking water, recreation, wildlife habitat and fishing.
Stormwater pollution results in a multitude of economic losses. Sediment, toxic pollutants and pathogens in stormwater leads to poor quality fish catch and financial losses for the commercial and recreational fishing industries. Contaminated beaches result in medical expenses for treating water-related illness, and the coastal community suffers from losses in sales and services. Stormwater pollution also leads to increased water treatment costs.
When stormwater runoff increases, it can create significant flood damage repair costs and dredging costs, as sediment washed from the land settles in our waterways.
Yet, measures to decrease stormwater impacts can significantly increase property values.
Read about ways you can decrease and/or treat stormwater runoff on your own property on our Protecting Water Quality At Home page!
Learn about Sound Rivers’ green stormwater infrastructure projects at schools across the Tar-Pamlico and Neuse watersheds here.