Stormwater is rain and snow that runs off solid surfaces such as parking lots, roads, and roofs and then empties into natural or manmade drainages. Stormwater runoff is the leading source of water pollution in urbanized areas. Numerous pollutants are picked up by stormwater as it flows across impervious surfaces, such as streets and driveways. This water flows untreated to the rivers we use for drinking, fishing, and other recreation activities. Impervious surfaces also prevent precipitation from infiltrating into the ground and recharging our groundwater supply.
Stormwater also increases the frequency and severity of flooding. In our urban and even in many rural areas, water which once entered the soil now drains from impervious surfaces, such as parking lots, roads, and roofs into below ground pipes or ditches. This water drains directly to our rivers and streams more quickly creating an increase in volume of water in our streams. Our streams where not built by nature to handle these flows, therefore there is an increase in streambank erosion creating steep banks, undercut banks, and sedimentation.
Increasing development in Western North Carolina has led to an increase in stormwater runoff within the French Broad River Watershed. RiverLink’s Watershed Resources Program pursues grant funding to install landscape features, known as stormwater control measures, which capture, store, and filter stormwater runoff before it enters our waterways.