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
- 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.
- 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
- RVs dumping septic lines leads to algal blooms from extra nutrients
- Soaps, paints, and chemicals can create toxic environments for fish, leading to fish kills (which often come with hefty fines)
- 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.
- 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.
Stormwater can pick up debris, chemicals, dirt, and other pollutants, which flows directly into our streams, rivers, and lakes. So, any pollution that enters a stormwater system is discharged untreated into the waters we use fishing, swimming, and drinking water.
Polluted stormwater often affects drinking water sources. This, in turn, can affect human health and increase drinking water treatment costs.
Affects on Aquatic Habitats
- Sediment can cloud the water and make it difficult or impossible for aquatic plants to grow and thrive. Sediment also can destroy aquatic habitats.
- Excess nutrients can cause algae blooms. When algae die, they sink to the bottom and decompose in a process that removes oxygen from the water. Fish and other aquatic organisms can't exist in water with low dissolved oxygen levels.
- Bacteria and other pathogens can wash into swimming areas and create health hazards, often making beach closures necessary.
- Debris - plastic bags, six-pack rings, bottles, and cigarette butts - washed into water bodies can choke, suffocate, or disable aquatic life like ducks, fish, turtles, and birds.
- Household hazardous wastes like insecticides, pesticides, paint, solvents, used motor oil, and other auto fluids can poison aquatic life. Land animals and people can become sick from eating diseased fish and shellfish or ingesting polluted water.
Ways You Can Help Prevent Stormwater Pollution
Vehicle & Garage
- Use a commercial car wash or wash your car on a lawn or other unpaved surface to minimize the amount of dirty, soapy water lowing into the storm drain and eventually into your local water body.
- Check your car, boat, motorcycle, and other machinery and equipment for leaks and spills. Make repairs as soon as possible. Clean up spilled fluids with an absorbent material like kitty litter or sand, and don't rinse the spills into a nearby storm drain. Remember to properly dispose of the absorbent material.
- Recycle used oil and other automotive fluids at participating service stations. Don't dump these chemicals down the storm drain or dispose of them in your trash.
Lawn & Garden
- Use pesticides and fertilizers sparingly. When use is necessary, use these chemicals in the recommended amounts. Avoid application if the forecast calls for rain; otherwise, chemicals will be washed into your local stream.
- Select native plants and grasses that are drought- and pest resistant. Native plants require less water, fertilizer, and pesticides.
- Sweep up yard debris, rather than hosing down areas. Compost or recycle yard waste when possible.
- Don't over water your lawn. Water during the cool times of the day, and don't let water run off into the storm drain.
- Cover piles of dirt and mulch being used in landscaping projects to prevent these pollutants from blowing or washing off your yard and into local water bodies. Vegetate bare spots in your yard to prevent soil erosion.
Home Repair & Improvement
- Before beginning an outdoor project, locate the nearest storm drains and protect them from debris and other materials.
- Sweep up and properly dispose of construction debris such as concrete and mortar.
- Reduce the amount of paved area and increase the amount of vegetated area in your yard. Use native plants in your landscaping to reduce the need for watering during dry periods. Consider directing downspouts away from paved surfaces onto lawns and other measures to increase infiltration and reduce polluted runoff.
- When walking your pet, remember to pick up the waste and dispose of it properly. Flushing pet waste is the best disposal method. Leaving pet waste on the ground increases public health risks by allowing harmful bacteria and nutrients to wash into the storm drain and eventually into local water bodies.
Swimming Pool & Spa
- Drain your swimming pool only when a test kit does not detect chlorine levels.
- Whenever possible, drain your pool or spa into the sanitary sewer system.
- Properly store pool and spa chemicals to prevent leaks and spills, preferably in a covered area to avoid exposure to stormwater.
Septic System Use & Maintenance
- Flush responsibly. Flushing household chemicals like paint, pesticides, oil, and antifreeze can destroy the biological treatment taking place in the system. Other items, such as diapers, paper towels, and cat litter, can clog the septic system and potentially damage components.
- If you have a septic system - have it inspected by a professional every 3 years and have the septic pumped as necessary (usually every 3 to 5 years)
- Care for the septic system drain field by not driving or parking vehicles on it. Plant only grass over and near the drain field to avoid damage from roots.
Household Hazardous Waste
- Use hazardous substances like paints, solvents, and cleaners in the smallest amounts possible, and follow the directions on the label. Clean up spills immediately.
- Purchase and use nontoxic, biodegradable, recycled, and recyclable products whenever possible.
- Clean paint brushes in a sink, not outdoors. Filter and reuse paint thinner when using oil-based paints. Properly dispose of excess paints through a household hazardous waste collection program, or donate unused paint to local organizations.