1. Stormwater Information
  2. Stormwater Pollution

The City of Lenoir Stormwater Management Plan and program is administered and managed by the Western Piedmont Council of Governments (WPCOG). The purpose of the program is to satisfy an Environmental Protection Agency permit that allows the City to discharge stormwater runoff into the City storm drain system. The EPA permit is enforced by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ). 

The permit regulates discharges of stormwater runoff from municipal storm sewer systems – these systems are separate from your traditional sanitary sewer systems (storm drains vs. toilets, sinks, showers, etc.) and must be managed differently according to the Clean Water Act.

Despite the common belief, STORMWATER DOES NOT GET TREATED BY WATER TREATMENT PLANTS. This is due to an issue of scale. Just one inch of rainfall on a one-acre parking lot can generate over 27,000 gallons of runoff. That entire parking lot, pollutants and all, goes into the storm drain, which eventually ends up in our rivers, streams, or lakes. The very same water bodies that we get our drinking water from. 

This program is designed to regulate the flow of stormwater runoff and to regulate development or expansion of impervious surfaces, which eventually impact our water bodies and drinking water. This is done by carefully designing drainage structures that are able to control and treat stormwater. These structures are called Stormwater Control Structures (SCMs, previously known as BMP’s), and they are designed to treat stormwater runoff for various pollutants and either slowly release the treated water back into our streams, or allow it to infiltrate back into the ground.

Stormwater online reporting

If you have a stormwater issue, want to report and illicit discharge, or have a question, please click the following link, WPCOG Stormwater Online Reporting Tool.

When it rains – It drains

An impervious surface is a type of surface where water cannot be absorbed, these surfaces include: asphalt, concrete, buildings, and even most forms of gravel. As runoff goes across these surfaces it picks up speed and carries whatever is present on the surface itself. Stormwater runoff is not clean water. These impervious areas have buildups of things like: Oil from leaking vehicles, heavy metals from brake pad dust, sediment/dirt from construction or loose grassy areas, and other unnatural elements that harm stream quality. Another issue caused by this is the runoff will not be able to slow down on these impervious surfaces, which leads to erosion throughout the City of Lenoir and our streambanks. This becomes an issue from for a few reasons 

  1. As we expand and build more through our city we replace pervious surface (grass, dirt, natural areas where water CAN infiltrate back into the ground) with impervious ones, which increases the amount of runoff from every storm. Less water goes back into the ground and has to be directed back into the streams.
  2. This leads to a higher pollutant load going into our streams. This increases the costs of treating our drinking water. Some people will dump additional pollutants directly into the storm drain, which can cause other issues
    1. RVs dumping septic lines leads to algal blooms from extra nutrients
    2. Soaps, paints, and chemicals can create toxic environments for fish, leading to fish kills (which often come with hefty fines)
  3. These impervious surfaces do not slow the runoff down like natural areas would, this leads to stream/riverbanks getting blown out or damaged. Due to the cascading effect, this results in lower quality water that limits fishing potential or harming the aesthetic value of rivers and lakes in our area. As a result this can devalue property, harm tourism, reduce fishing income, and damages the intrinsic values of our waterways. 
    1. This does not just impact waterways, but even just your yard can be harmed by high velocity stormwater.

What you can do to protect our waterways

The runoff pollutants and additional erosion from our developed areas is expected and unavoidable. Our program works to regulate these to within the limits that our receiving water bodies can handle. Some of the more significant issues arise from citizens who are careless or unaware of how their actions impact our water. There are many things you can do to help educate others, report issues to be fixed, or even just be aware of the problem.

  • If you notice signs that someone has been dumping things into a storm drain (oil spots, dried on paint, litter/debris) you can report it to the City of Lenoir to be investigated as an Illicit Discharge
  • If you see a storm drain is clogged with litter, sticks, yard clippings, etc. Clean it out. 
  • When you mow or blow leaves, make sure you don’t let the yard waste go into the storm drains.
  • Follow the labels on your fertilizers, do not apply it when it is going to rain, and don’t let pesticide overspray into a storm drain.
  • When you wash your car, either block the storm drain or do it in your yard to prevent the soap from going down the drain. Only rain should go down the drain!
  • Dispose of your pets waste to prevent it from washing into a drain next time it rains

If you notice any violations, have questions, or concerns click the following link to visit the WPCOG Stormwater Online Reporting Tool.