Wake County's stormwater management regulations may be found in Article 9 of the Unified Development Ordinance
. These regulations establish minimum requirements to address adverse effects of stormwater runoff associated with new development.
Wake County administers stormwater regulations for all unincorporated areas as well as three municipalities through interlocal agreements: Wendell, Rolesville and Zebulon.
Both Falls Lake and Jordan Lake are considered polluted due to excessive nutrient inputs, and stormwater runoff is one of the major sources. As a result, both lakes have been designated as Nutrient Sensitive Waters (NSW) by the North Carolina Division of Water Quality (DWQ). The Falls Lake and Jordan Lake rules passed by the State require local governments to adopt stormwater standards for new development. The State’s Falls Lake rules became effective January 15, 2011, and the Jordan Lake rules became effective August 11, 2009. Local governments must implement the New Development Rule for Falls Lake by July 12, 2012, and by August 10, 2012, for Jordan Lake. Wake County is addressing the two programs in one set of regulations within its Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), Section 9-21 State Nutrient Management Strategy Rules.
New Stormwater Rules for New Development in the Falls and Jordan Lake Basins
Algal blooms and fish kills in the lower Neuse River during 1988 led to state rules for controlling nutrients in the Neuse basin. The rules cover agriculture, urban development and wastewater treatment plants.
Wake County is one of 15 local governments that enforce the Neuse Stormwater Rules codified in 15A NCAC 2B .0235. Wake County requires compliance with the Neuse Rules throughout the County (including within the Cape Fear Basin). The stormwater rules require protection of riparian buffers, peak flow control and nitrogen control from new development.
The federal Clean Water Act
of 1972 focused initially on discharges from sources such as industrial and municipal wastewater treatment plants. Water quality studies have shown that more diffuse sources of pollution are also a problem. In 1987, Congress added requirements for non-agricultural sources of runoff, beginning with the largest cities and certain industries.
Wake County is covered under the second phase of the program, which is called the National Permit Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program.
The County's pollution reduction program must address:
- Public education and participation
- Illicit discharge detection
- Construction site runoff during and after work
- Municipal wastewater treatment plant operations