Wilmington Stormwater Efforts Recognized - Storm Water Jobs


Wilmington Stormwater Efforts Recognized

News Date
5/15/2017
Date Posted
5/15/2017

Description

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH — A collaboration to keep polluted stormwater out of public waterways is being recognized for its efforts Monday with the Environmental Protection Agency’s regional 2017 Rain Catcher Award in the community category. The eight projects implemented by the group from 2013 to 2017 significantly reduced stormwater discharge into waterways, thereby reducing bacteria concentrations that affect recreational and shellfishing waters. “The real value of these projects is that we now have scientific proof that they’re very effective – not just effective – very effective,” said Tracy Skrabal, Coastal Scientist and Manager of the North Carolina Coastal Federation’s southeast regional office in Wrightsville Beach. “And with that information and the information we gained on cost, we can use these models for other municipalities, other resorts, anybody who has a stake in clean water.” Blockade Runner Cistern and outfall pipe at Banks Channel. Infiltration system has led to nearly 100 percent reduction in stormwater flowing from that outfall pipe into the channel. Photo: Dana Sargent The team received this award for eight projects under the Bradley and Hewletts Creek Watershed Plan. These projects redirect runoff from hard surfaces and allow runoff to filter into the ground, providing successful demonstrations of options to prevent polluted stormwater runoff for new development and redevelopment scenarios. Stormwater collects bacteria and other pollutants as it runs off rooftops and across roads and parking lots. Historically, urban planners simply created a pathway for rain to flow directly into sewers and drains, which push it through to waterways. Stormwater runoff is the biggest polluter of coastal waters, according to the federation. In the late 1990s, research on degrading water quality prompted an approach to urban design that not only tackles the problem of nuisance flooding and pollution to waterways, but looks at stormwater as a resource as well. “Low-impact development” or “green infrastructure” are terms used interchangeably referring to designs that work with nature to manage pollution and recycle stormwater. Before modern-day infrastructure, people relied on collection of rainwater for their water needs. “We somehow engineered our way into a system of simply getting rain out of the way,” said Lauren Kolodij, the federation’s deputy director. Stormwater management through “low-impact development” redirects stormwater to the ground where soil and vegetation naturally filter and recycle it through groundwater recharge or evapotranspiration. Cisterns may also be used to collect it for re-use. Walk the Loop, Take a Look Some of the award-winning projects are showcased on the federation’s Walk the Loop tour that allows pedestrians to see the retrofits along the John Nesbitt Loop in Wrightsville Beach. To learn more about the projects along the John Nesbitt Loop, visit walktheloop.org. For questions about the projects, contact Tracy Skrabal at 910-509- 2838. “We know we’re never going to be able to completely stop pollution at the sources – they’re too ubiquitous and consistent,” said Skrabal. “And it’s not practical or cost-effective to treat the problem once it’s in the water, so what you have left is in between – and that’s where you want to put your money and your resources,” she said. In 2013, the federation, which publishes Coastal Review Online, and the National Estuarine Research Reserve developed a collaboration to address the issue. Along with these founding groups, also on board were Wrightsville Beach; Wilmington; the Department of Transportation; the North Carolina Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources; the Division of Coastal Management; the state Shellfish Sanitation Section; the Cooperative Extension Service; the Division of Soil and Water Conservation; the University of North Carolina Wilmington; the Blockade Runner Resort; and professional consultants.

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