Wilmington Stormwater Efforts Recognized
“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.
Historically, urban planners simply created a pathway for rain to flow directly into sewers and drains, which push it through to waterways.
Cisterns may also be used to collect it for re-use.
Each project was designed to work with existing landscapes to redirect stormwater from impervious areas so that it can soak into the ground or into vegetation, essentially disconnecting the pathway to drains and outfalls that lead directly into waterways.
Projects included redirecting flow from a disconnected street drain into a large rain garden; retrofitting city curb cuts to redirect runoff into a grassy median and regrading landscape in front of a restaurant to provide infiltration of runoff that was previously flowing into a drain.
“We’re saving money and reducing our public water usage by 20 to 25 percent,” said Blockade Runner Environmental Coordinator Feletia Lee.
Researchers led by Michael Mallin, a research professor at UNCW who focuses on the causes and effects of excessive amounts of nutrients in water bodies, found that infiltration chambers installed at one site reduced polluted stormwater discharge into Banks Channel by 93 percent, leading to a 96 percent load reduction in fecal bacteria.
“I think this project is a great example of how small-scale retrofits can make a big difference in controlling stormwater and protecting coastal water quality, said Whitney Jenkins, the Coastal Training Program Coordinator for the North Carolina Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve and collaborative lead on the stormwater projects.
“The long-term result we hope comes from this is that we foster a new generation of stormwater management.” Learn More Like This Story?
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