The Stormwater Management Program within Watershed Management addresses the adverse effects of stormwater runoff associated with new development. Proper management of stormwater runoff will protect property, control stream erosion, reduce flooding, protect floodplain and wetlands, water resources, riparian and aquatic ecosystems. Wake County administers stormwater regulations for all unincorporated areas as well as Wendell, Rolesville and Zebulon through interlocal agreements.
The proper management of stormwater runoff is essential to maintaining the integrity of our watersheds and our environment. Wake County's Stormwater program monitors compliance with stormwater regulations for the unincorporated areas in Wake County. One purpose of the Stormwater program is to protect water supplies in Wake County and surrounding municipalities by minimizing the amount of nitrogen and other pollutants that stormwater carries.
Stormwater runoff is the number-one cause of water pollution in North Carolina. As land is developed, the impervious surfaces that are created increase the amount of runoff from rainfall or snowmelt events. Impervious surfaces like rooftops, driveways, sidewalks and streets prevent stormwater runoff from naturally soaking into the ground. Stormwater can pick up debris, chemicals, dirt and other pollutants and flow directly to a stream, river, lake, wetland, or into a storm sewer system. Anything that enters a storm sewer system is discharged untreated into the water bodies we use for swimming, fishing and providing drinking water.
While awareness and interest in environmental protection exists at the local government and citizen level, the County’s water resources continue to experience degradation. The length and number of streams on the State’s 303(d) list of impaired waters has increased since the list was first published in 1998. Also, a 2003 assessment of the County’s 82 watersheds as part of the Wake County Watershed Management Plan rated nearly 63% of the watersheds as impacted or degraded. In recent years, an average of 27 acres of land in Wake County is converted from a natural to a developing stage every day. If not managed properly, development in Wake County could result in the further impairment of these water resources, having a pronounced impact on the quality of life in Wake County.
Increased stormwater runoff can erode stream channels, increase pollutant loading in surface waters, cause downstream flooding and prevent groundwater recharge. Protecting our water resources is vital for a variety of reasons, including ensuring an adequate supply of safe drinking water, protection of fish and wildlife habitat, human health and recreation.